Catholic Community Services has funding available for King County, Snohomish County, and Pierce County residents for move-in cost assistance through The Hunthausen Fund. This funding is referral-based; Case Managers will complete the application with potential recipients and send it to us for review. If the individual meets all of the outlined requirements and the application is complete, payment will be made directly to the landlord for First Month/Last Month/Deposit (as funding permits). This source is specifically for individuals and families moving from homelessness into public or private permanent housing. Unfortunately, we cannot assist with move-in for transitional housing at this time.
If you’d like to get more information, please review the Program Overview or contact Victoria Anderson (425) 679-0340 or James Tolbert (253) 850-2505 with any additional questions you may have. Please also feel free to tell members of other agencies, as this funding is available to all service providers’ clients, so long as the individual meets the program requirements. Thank you, and we look forward to working with you to get your clients housed!
Big thanks to all who were able to join us for last month’s Families with Children committee meeting. As always, it was great to see a room full of familiar and new faces!
We were joined by Mary Dunbar from Kids Plus (Public Health – Seattle & King County), who offered a training on working with guests to address their mental health needs. Danielle Winslow (All Home) provided timely Coordinated Entry for All updates with the group. Highlights and resources from these two folks are below:
King County Mental Health’s wraparound services offer additional supports to children to help stabilize them in the community. More information and application processes for this program can be found on the King County website.
Adults and folks of all ages can access mental health services at the locations listed on this document.
King County Crisis and Commitment Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide initial outreach services to folks not already accessing outpatient care in King County as well as evaluation of people with mental disorders for possible involuntary detention in psychiatric facilities according to the mental illness law in the State of Washington.
Throughout King County and the state of Washington, low-cost and free clinics are available for folks to access mental and physical healthcare needs. Mary suggests looking into Consejo, Cornerstone, and Project Access Northwest as resources to learn more about mental health services for clients who don’t have insurance.
Danielle joined the committee to update the group on the latest updates to Coordinated Entry for All in King County. The latest handout for stakeholders in the community can be found here, and below are some additional updates:
Coordinated Entry for All now has a Systems Manager. Sara Hoffman (sara[dot]hoffman[at]kingcounty[dot]gov) can be contacted with any questions
With the implementation of Coordinated Entry for All and a shift away from Family Housing Connection and Youth Housing Connection comes a new website! Check it out here. (For now, folks can still access the FHC and YHC websites, but these will soon be re-directed)
All but the Eastside Regional Access Points for Coordinated Entry for All throughout King County have been selected by All Home (Veterans and Young Adults have additional access points):
North King County – Solid Ground, Meridian Center
Seattle – Catholic Community Services w/ YouthCare and Somali Youth and Family Club
Kent – YWCA
Federal Way – Multi-Service Center
Each of these Regional Access Points (RAPs) is in a different stage, but all will be ready by the end of July
Big thanks to Shelley Mastalerz and Summer Hayes from the Seattle Central Library’s Children’s and Teen Services for joining us at our YYAC meeting last Tuesday, November 10! At the meeting, Shelley and Summer shared with us some of the current events/opportunities that the Seattle Public Library (SPL) hosts, and some opportunities for developing community partnerships.
Every Thursday afternoon, from 3pm-5pm, the Central Library hosts a youth drop-in, put on by a partnership between the Library and New Horizons Ministries. This time was created to fill a gap in time where drop-in hours were not available at New Horizons. SPL is seeking to expand programs such as this, and we enjoyed discussing what this growth could look like. Some of the ideas from the group included advertising the resource by visiting current drop-in centers and passing on the word, creating an easily accessible resource center as part of the Teen Center, diversifying available activities, and offering incentives for youth to visit the Teen Center during Thursday drop-in times. Shelley and Summer hope to form more community partnerships and work with youth and young adult service providers, so please reach out to them with ideas, questions, or to work towards beginning a partnership with them. Contact the Seattle Public Library’s Children’s and Teen Services with teencenter[at]spl[dot]org.
Thanks again, Shelley and Summer!
Member updates from the meeting:
Trevor with Friends of Youth: Drop-in hours at Friends in Youth are changing from the previous time of 11am-2pm to a later time of 2pm-5pm.
Matthew with United Way: United Way will be housing a youth Community Resource Exchange on January 28, 2016. Programming and resources for this exchange are being developed. If you have ideas, questions or suggestions, please reach out to Matthew at mridgeway[at]uwkc[dot]org.
Coalition updates from the meeting:
2016 will be a year of case manager trainings:
If you’re interested in participating in a small workgroup or committee for planning these 3-4 trainings, be on the lookout for applications coming out in the next couple of months.
One Night Count is kicking into gear:
Learn about the different ways to get involved on our website.
Area Leads are in the process of contacting past team captains to confirm their participation for 2016 ONC.
On Tuesday, the City of Seattle Councilmembers voted unanimously to add $2.265 million to the City’s budget as a one-time allocation to address the crisis of homelessness. Thank you for your support and hard work in these efforts!
Six weeks into my internship with the Coalition on Homelessness, and my experiences have been above and beyond any of my expectations a month ago. Two weeks ago, I was excited to be a part of the 10th Annual Homeless and Formerly Homeless Youth Advocacy Summit (October 5-6, 2015). While doing advocacy work in Minnesota, I learned that I would constantly learn and grow by witnessing folks advocate around issues that impact their lives, and my time at the Youth Advocacy Summit proved to be no exception to this rule!
Having just supported the Coalition’s 2015 Voter Registration drive, one of the highlights of the Summit for me was witnessing young people choosing to participate in advocacy by exercising their right to vote. Over the course of the Summit, I was particularly excited to watch people think in a different, new way about voting. On the first day of the Summit, one participant was pretty vocal in their choice to not register to vote, feeling that their vote wasn’t enough to make change. Through conversations with other Summit participants, discussions about our elected officials in city and county government, and time to reflect, this participant changed their mind and decided to register! They are ready to have their voice heard in the upcoming election, and will do so through their vote as well as their conversations with Councilmembers during and beyond the Youth Advocacy Summit.
Participants at the Youth Advocacy Summit took on no small task! I was impressed by these advocates’ commitment over two very full days (three days for Peer Leaders!) of discussing some of the hard work that needs to be done in this community. Advocates worked on and presented one of four issues throughout the Summit:
1 – Need for an increase in the numbers of available permanent and affordable housing units
2 – Issues specifically impacting People of Color and LGBTQ youth
3 – Need for increased access to low-barrier, supportive resources
4 – Street safety and public space use.
Advocates met with King County Executive Dow Constantine; King County Councilmembers Larry Gossett, Dave Upthegrove, Kathy Lambert, Joe McDermott, and Rod Dembowski; Seattle Mayor Ed Murray; Seattle City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Nick Licata, Tim Burgess, and Mike O’Brien; and senior staff from the Seattle Human Services Department to discuss their topics.
On the second day of the Summit, I was able to sit in on the meeting between the advocacy group focusing on issues impacting People of Color and LGBTQ youth and Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Councilmember Sawant was clearly invested in the conversation, and engaged with participants through asking questions and sharing her observations. Our meeting with Councilmember Sawant was incredibly driving; at the end of our meeting she stated that the work being done that day in the office was the groundwork to making change. She asked participants to continue to speak up, and made it clear that she supports their efforts to work towards a community where all are safe and treated equitably. Councilmember Sawant reminded myself and the people that I was with that change may not happen quickly, but that it is made possible through the long efforts of folks like those meeting with her in that moment.
After the Youth Advocacy Summit, I went to my first City Council budget hearing. As a newcomer to the city, I find myself constantly learning from the locals who have experienced firsthand the impact of the City of Seattle’s budget. Several advocates from the Youth Advocacy Summit were present to speak up, as well as representatives from all over the city who care about creating a budget that adequately responds to the state of emergency in this city. Seeing folks testify for a budget that actually responds to the state of emergency, instead of taking the usual stance of “business as usual”, has helped me to understand the impact that this budget will have on the city. More than anything, these testimonies serve as a reminder to me that people need to continue to speak up! The next, and final, public budget hearing will take place TONIGHT, October 20th, at 5:30 PM (sign-in begins at 5:00!), and we need you to show up to speak up for Human Services and housing and homelessness issues. Join us, wear red to declare the state of emergency, and be ready to tell City Council that “we are in a state of emergency; we must have an equal response”.
This is an exciting time of year: flowers are blooming, days are longer, and Project Cool for Back-to-School is in full swing!!!
I have been waiting for Project Cool since I joined the Coalition back in September and am so excited it is finally here. The work to make sure that students start off the school year with a new backpack and school supplies, just like their peers, is very important and further enhanced by the Understanding Homeless Students’ Educational Rights guide that each student receives.
I know that Project Cool would not be possible without the support, work, and some sweat while stuffing backpacks of our awesome Coalition supporters and volunteers and I’m looking forward to working with you this year. Ready to get involved? see how below!
Ready… Set… Go! Here are 5 ways you can get involved:
Dental Donations. We need your help to reach out to Dentists for floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste donations. Do you have an upcoming dentist appointment, or is there a nearby dentist office in your community? Use our Dentist Letter to ask your personal or local dentist to donate supplies to Project Cool.
Thank You Students from Concordia University’s Alternative Break Leadership Experiences for an awesome day of service!
After a week of service work at Union Gospel Mission, Urban Rest Stop, and Operation Nightwatch, a group of six students and two leaders focusing on serving and and learning about homelessness, hunger, and youth poverty came to the Church of Hope to help sort donated supplies for Project Cool. They worked with determination and we shared in conversation about their time in Seattle and what they had been learning. Our new friends not only sorted and counted supplies, but also assembled new shelves! If any of you have volunteered with Project Cool in the Church of Hope and seen our supply closet, you may know that it was definitely in need of shelves to help store donations. Look how organized the space is now! It brought smiles to Staff’s faces to see items neatly sorted.
This group of students is really special, they are going to make a difference in the world and I am fortunate we had the opportunity to work together and learn from one another. When 1pm rolled around, our end time, the group was full into bundling and counting pencils and I said they could be done; they responded, “no”! With determination they sorted every last pencil, a great example of knowing that their time can make a positive difference. Thank you. I will leave you with a few inspiring quotes that group members wrote on advocacy postcards after their hard (and extended) day’s work.
I hope to see you at volunteer days this July!
“My team and I from Concordia University have had the opportunity to spend the past week working with low income students and see that they have a huge need in so many areas that any assistance would be a huge gain.”
“I had the wonderful opportunity to help sort items with project cool. The homeless do matter!!”
“Every child deserves education and the resources they need to succeed All people matter. We have to help each individual to transform our society into a better community”
Katara Jordan of Columbia Legal Services shared the following message with supporters of the Homeless Student Stability Act (HB 1682), which is alive and well (currently scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education at 8am, Thursday, March 19). She especially wanted to thank Coalition members for their great support, calls, and postcard signing which was critical to keeping this bill alive and moving.
Keep calling in and letting your legislators know that our state needs better support for students experiencing homelessness and this is possible with the Homeless Student Stability Act! Visit our bill tracker for most up to date info.
Friday, February 27 was critical in the fight to increase state support for homeless students. That morning, it appeared that the Homeless Student Stability Act would not receive a hearing in either the House or Senate budget committees. The 27th was the last day for bills to pass out of state fiscal committees. And generally bills must receive a public hearing before they are allowed to do so.
Your effort calling your Representatives helped us secure a public hearing in Appropriations on the Homeless Student Stability Act —a necessary step to increase state support for homeless students. You were genuinely instrumental in securing a hearing for this bill! THANK YOU!
We have even more exciting to news to share! On March 6, the House overwhelmingly passed HB 1682 (the Homeless Student Stability Act) in a vote of 82-16! Representatives Fey, Stambaugh, and Magendanz all gave great speeches on the importance of supporting homeless students and their families!
This bill would provide increased in-school support for homeless students as well as create new housing partnerships between school districts and community organizations. With this bill, we could not just shelter hundreds of families and children across the state – we could house them. The bill also requires, for the first time, that school districts across the state begin to identify unaccompanied homeless youth. While schools are already encouraged to do so, many simply report “0” unaccompanied homeless students. Columbia Legal Services, a non-profit legal organization backing the Homeless Student Stability Act, estimates that there are approximately 4,400 unaccompanied youth in our schools, more than 2,000 more than are actually identified.
Simply call 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for the operator:
“The Homeless Student Stability Act will result in short and long term savings, as well as better educational, health, and life outcomes for students and their families. Please support this important issue.”
After you leave a message for your legislators, if you really want to go the extra advocacy mile, you can also directly call members of the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education to give them the same message. The Senators labeled with two asterisks after their phone number are the most critical.
Senator Steve Litzow (360-786-7641)**
Senator Andy Hill (360-786-7672)**
Senator Bruce Dammeier (360 786-7648)**
Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (360- 786-7600)
Senator Andy Billig (360-786-7604)
Senator Joe Fain (360-786-7692)
Senator Mark Mullet (360-786-7608)
Senator Ann Rivers (360-786-7634)
Senator Christine Rolfes (360-786-7644) Senator Rolfes has been a huge champion. Please consider thanking her for her support
Katara Jordan, Staff Attorney, Columbia Legal Services, Children & Youth Project
And it’s a wrap (but not really). The 2015 Regular Legislative Session ended on Friday 4/24, but the House and Senate have yet to agree upon a budget, so a special session will start on Wednesday, 4/29.
We are happy that Extended Foster Care, the YEAR Act, the Homeless Youth Act, and the King County Bonding for Affordable Housing all passed! Unfortunately a number of our bills did not pass, as happens each session since only a limited number of bills can even be brought to vote. These bills will be re-worked in the break until the 2016 legislative session and be reborn and hopefully pass in 2016. Your phone calls, postcard signing, and advocacy have been significant and continue to be vital moving forward in the Budget process.
Budgets from the House and Senate were both released in mid-April. See below for more details. The House and Senate will have to work together to agree upon a balanced budget. We are glad the House and the Governor both provided for revenue in their budgets, however the Senate did not. We encourage you to ask your legislators to “Please ensure the final budget raises new revenue and invests at least $110 million in affordable housing.”
Take 5: call the Legislative Hotline to leave a message for your representatives and let them know what bills you support and also urge them to invest $100 Million in the Housing Trust Fund. These bills and budget asks are crucial to helping people experiencing homelessness in our community. Hotline Number: 1-800-562-6000 – real (and kind) people answer the phone! Hotline Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-8pm
Here are some budget ask messages from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance to use while making your weekly call to your two representatives and senator in Olympia:
Please ensure the final budgets passed by the legislature match the House’s proposed operating and capital budgets.
Please ensure the final budget raises new revenue and invests at least $110 million in affordable housing.
Please also fund the Medicaid permanent supportive housing services benefit.
And thank you for protecting vital safety net programs like HEN, ABD, and SSI Facilitation.
KEY LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES updated 4/28/2015:
Please use this table to see the progress of bills that are part of our Legislative Priorities throughout the 2015 Legislative Session. For further information about bills and links to one-pagers please scroll below the table. Note that many bills are in both the Senate (SB) and House (HB) and therefore have their own rows in the table. Feel free to sort!
PROTECT Crucial Programs & Prevent Homelessness for disabled and elderly Washingtonians: Maintain Housing & Essential Needs (HEN), Aged, Blind, & Disabled (ABD) and SSI Facilitation at current funding levels. Seniors and people with disabilities must be able to meet their basic needs and access recovery resources.
In all three budgets (Governor, House, Senate), HEN/ABD/SSI Facilitation funding was maintained – not cut, but also not increased.
Washington’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) system provides struggling families with children a modest cash grant to help meet their basic needs, such as housing, clothing, and health items. Many in our communities rely on this vital program to put food on their tables and provide for their children.
During the 2011 Legislative Session, the TANF cash grant was reduced by 15%. It is high time to take action and RESTORE the 15% cut from 2011. This will increase the grant for a family of 3 from $478 to $562, providing critical resources to our poorest families.
Legislators must include new revenue, not more cuts, in the budget! Over the past four years, the legislature has cut over $10.5 billion, but has increased revenue by less than $1 billion. As the state House & Senate work to balance the budget for the next two years, programs and services that support the most vulnerable members of our communities are again on the chopping block. Since the Great Recession hit in 2008, we have cut more services than at any time in our state’s history. These cuts damage our state’s ability to create jobs and recover from the recession, and they balance the budget on the backs of people who already struggle the most.
Governor’s Budget:Raises about $1.4 billion in new revenues. His cap & trade plan allocates money to the Housing Trust Fund.
Senate Budget:Does not raise new revenue. Rather the budget achieves savings from cuts to programs, cuts to state worker compensation, LEAN management savings, and Commerce & DSHS departments, etc. Commerce is subject to cuts, although not necessarily to the department that oversees our programs.
With a Medicaid Supportive Housing Services Benefit, supportive housing providers could bill Medicaid for supportive services provided to eligible residents. This would allow more chronically homeless people to access services, improve the integration of behavioral and health care, and would help individuals with severe and chronic health issues stay off the street and live in a healthy home.
Governor’s Budget: Not funded
House Budget: $100,000 for Department of Social and Health Services staff costs to implement waiver
The Homeless Student Stability Act passed out of the House, but did not pass in the Senate. However, the House budget gave $2 million of funding to implement the act. Call on your Senators to change their budget to include funding for HSSA!
House Budget: $2 million for Homeless Student Stability Act
Pass theHomeless Youth Act(HB 1436 / SB 5404). Successfully addressing youth homelessness ensures that homeless youth and young adults in our state have the support they need to thrive and avoid more costly outcomes in the criminal justice system, human trafficking, long-term dependence on public benefits, or chronic adult homelessness.
This bill will clarify language for existing legislation from 2011 that authorized King County to use a portion of lodging tax revenues to develop housing for working families. Clarified language will cause building to begin much sooner than 2021 (when legislation currently says funds will be available).
Finding a new home or place to rent is hard and usually people apply for more than one place. Currently the average renter will have to pay for three or more tenant screening reports during this process. The Fair Tenant Screening Act would create the a portable tenant screening report process where a renter could buy (one time) a standard online tenant screening report and provide access to the report to multiple landlords.Pass the Fair Tenant Screening Act to make the tenant screening process more affordable and fair for both tenants and landlords.
Currently, a tenant can be caught in a landlord’s foreclosure, win an appeal, be wrongfully named, settle to the landlord’s satisfaction, or not be evicted. Despite this, their names still appear with an eviction on their report, which usually results in landlords being reluctant to take them as tenants. Tenant screening reports should only name evictions when the tenant has actually been evicted.
This legislation would prohibit discrimination in housing based on participation in government assistance programs. Many rental ads now list “not accepting Section 8,” referring to those receiving assistance with their rent. These tenants should be subject to screening checks just like any other tenant, but Section 8 status alone is no reason to prevent a prospective tenant from even applying.
SUPPORT Homeless Students: Pass the Homeless Student Stability Act
Invests in stability for homeless students using a two-pronged approach: 1) provides funding for school districts to serve homeless students. School funding is designed to match the federal dollars received under McKinney-Vento; 2) creates a grant program serving up to 15 school districts interested in creating school-housing partnerships that will directly increase housing stability for homeless students and families. Funds can be used for housing vouchers, rapid rehousing, host homes, or other programs based on local need and community preference. Partnerships will be data-driven and targeted to improve stability and academic performance of homeless students.
SB 5065(Frockt) Status: DEAD HB 1682(Fey) Status: DEAD – however $2 million funded in house budget
Join us to advance our shared mission: ensuring safety and survival for people who are homeless, and working collaboratively to end the crisis of homelessness in our region.
Project Cool for Back-to School 2014 helped 1,373 homeless students start the school year right with new backpacks, school supplies, and dental kits. We’re preparing for Project Cool 2015, and continuing to move beyond the backpacks, connecting advocacy with service!
We organized and mobilized over 1,100 people and dozens of organizational partners to carry out the 2015 One Night Count of people who are homeless outside. We documented 3,772 people outside overnight ~ a shocking but not surprising increase of 21% over last year. Within a week we brought the results to Olympia with our Ring out for Revenue and Roofs action. We ensure that these results inform and inspire action year-round.
Our two years of advocacy for a low income Metro fare paid off: the OrcaLIFT program launched March 1, 2015! OrcaLIFT is the broadest, deepest public transit access program in the U.S., allowing people earning up to 200% of FPL to ride for half-price. Six Coalition member agencies are helping sign up riders! Visit www.orcalift.com for eligibility and location information.
Four times a month, our General Membership and Population Committee meetings serve as lively and collegial forums for Coalition members to talk through timely issues and common problems and collaborate to find practical solutions.
Our workshops on Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 and Beyond the One Night Count provided over 200 people with tools to be strong, informed advocates, providers, and community members.
We are thankful for the continued support of our member organizations and advocates! Member organizations’ active staff involvement and dues make this Coalition one of the strongest advocacy voices in the region. Our networking, peer learning, leadership development, advocacy, and education are possible thanks to your support! Together, the Coalition will continue our exciting and important work throughout 2015.
We are all in the Huffington Post, thanks to a superb essay by Mary Anne Mercer. She writes about homelessness and inequality, and how tragedy becomes normalized. To every One Night Count Team Captain and volunteer who makes guests welcome, and keeps our community’s count safe, respectful, and accurate ~ thank you.
It was three AM. I was walking down a street in one of Seattle’s toniest neighborhoods with my 25-year-old daughter and another young woman. We were part of Seattle/King County’s One Night Count of the homeless, a massive effort to document the number of “unsheltered” persons on a random winter night, after the shelters had closed their doors.
It was my first time, but fortunately my companions were veterans of working with homeless populations. We spent the next two hours covering specified streets and alleys, peering behind trash cans and into parked cars, doorways and little park-like spaces. The effort, a project of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, was carried out by nearly 1100 volunteers who spent a few early morning hours documenting the men, women and children who had no indoor shelter.
It was a clear, cool January night. We strolled past glittering display windows for the many new condominiums and apartment buildings in the area — brightly lit, elegant showrooms with upscale décor and expensive furniture, plush sofas and carpets. As we moved past a low wall lined with manicured shrubbery, I glanced at a long mound covered by black plastic, nestled under the greenery. The three of us stopped, and suddenly I heard the faint sounds of a popular song. I jumped, and looked over at my daughter, who nodded knowingly. Yes, there was someone under that makeshift shelter, and they were doing what many young people do to lull themselves to sleep after a stressful day — playing music.
We walked a few steps farther, and she said in a low voice, “That counts as a structure, and there are usually two in that kind of space.”
I reached for my clipboard and made two tally marks under “structure, gender unknown.”
We were assigned to a neighborhood with modest numbers of homeless, and by the end of the night we had tallied just a dozen sleeping outside. The entire count, however, revealed 3,772 King County residents without shelter that night — in cars, tents, doorways, parks and under bridges. Additional people were in shelters or in transitional housing. In all, there were nearly 10,000 souls who were without homes on a chilly January night in and around Seattle, a city of 650,000 people.
That tally exceeded last year’s by 21 percent, and yet is an underestimate. Many homeless take great pains to be invisible to passersby, and it is impossible to cover every space where people might sleep in the county.
Most people can’t remember a time when the homeless weren’t an ever-present part of living in a city. But homelessness is, after all, about extreme poverty. It’s also about ever-rising inequality, the dramatic reduction over the past few decades of American jobs that pay a living wage, paired with millions of home foreclosures that were part of the 2008 economic crisis. For homeless single men and women, substance addiction and mental illness are key causes as well. These factors all combined to create a country where an estimated 1.6 to 3.5 million people, as much as 1 percent of the total population, are homeless at some time during a given year. Many of these homeless are employed, but working part time at service and other low-wage jobs that don’t pay enough to cover the expense of housing.
We get a deeper understanding of the pain of homelessness by looking at the individuals who endure it. An estimated 1.5 million American children are homeless at some time during the year. As many as half of the children who “age out” of foster care at age 18 end up living on the streets. Up to 40 percent of homeless adults are military veterans. Most are subject to open discrimination, and many to violence on the streets, with little recourse to protection from the police. Encampments of the homeless are regularly disbanded and forced to move on to other locations, where they are equally unwelcome.
We are a country that not only tolerates this ongoing tragedy, but has come to expect it.
After we finished counting in our assigned blocks that night, the three of us went back to the organizational center for a massive breakfast of eggs, bacon and fried potatoes. Relishing the savory meal, I caught myself saying to my daughter, “I’m glad it didn’t rain — we didn’t bring an umbrella.” I realized I had already detached, distanced myself from the people we had counted, returning to thoughts of my own comfort during our two hours on the streets. Is this how it happens? I wondered. A moment of empathy, quickly eclipsed by personal everyday concerns.
Seattle is fortunate that our mayor Ed Murray is committed to spending more resources to address the immediate problem of homelessness, but we can all be doing something to help. Volunteering with local organizations that support basic services for the least fortunate is a useful activity that can also remind us of the many social problems that poverty and homelessness produce.
But solace for the symptoms won’t cure the problem. If we are to address the conditions that bring about homelessness, Americans need to understand the repercussions of our dramatically rising economic inequality. Learning more can provide both motivation and a means of action. A resource that documents a dizzying array of the causes and effects of US inequality, as well as current approaches to addressing them, is Inequality.org.
Public policy produced the current crisis, and public policy can change it. The growing power of corporate America has led to legislation that protects the wealth of the 1 percent while keeping wages stagnant. In 2010 the Supreme Court determined that that US corporations have the rights of people – even while real human beings don’t have access to one of the most basic human rights, shelter. There’s a lot wrong with that. Unless we find ways to address our worsening inequality, we’ll keep counting those thousands of men, women and children living on our streets and in our alleys, well into the future.
Our friends at Seattle Counseling Services and HEYO are hosing a Queer Youth Healthcare Fair this SUNDAY the 16th at the Seattle Downtown Central Library from 2-5pm. Please spread this information to your networks, clients, guests, and the community by printing & posting or emailing the flyer and this message from SCS!
There will be FREE HIV testing, FREE food, #MYHIVMOMENT photo booth, and in-person healthcare navigators available to answer questions and help individuals enroll in qualified healthcare plans. Everyone is welcome to this event!