3 Ways You Can Make a Difference in Homelessness

By United Way of King County Posted on July 24, 2015 In Fighting Homelessness

Mark Putnam, Director of Committee to End Homelessness in King County is inspired by the creative ways people are working to make a difference in the lives of people living on the streets.


It takes all of us — and our friends, and our friends’ friends — to help the 10,000 or more people experiencing homelessness each day in King County.

This past week a few of my friends, and their friends, blew me away with their compassion and activism.

Helping people manage the heat. Last night, I got a call from an old high school friend. He’s currently living in his car, homeless as a result of health issues and significant health costs. He’s working full-time, but not able to rent in King County. He’s concerned about people living outside not having a place to dispose of garbage or human waste – and worried that they do not have enough water to survive the heat of summer. He’s been bringing gallon jugs of water to people living in tents by the stadiums in Sodo, doing what he can, even as he struggles to get by himself.

Getting landlords involved. Another old friend, Rebekah, has launched a program at her company, Zillow, to connect vulnerable renters with housing. The Community Pillar program works with landlords who are open to modifying their screening criteria to help people with potential rental barriers. These landlords will get a Community Pillar badge on their Zillow profile, and renters will be able to find them in the Zillow directory to view active rental listings.

Helping people who are living in their vehicles. A group of friends – Sinan, Graham, Rex, and Bill – and their vast networks of friends – rallied around a group of people living in their RVs in North Seattle. Rex from Homeless in Seattle organized a garbage cleanup. Subsequently, the RVs got notice from police that they needed to move their RVs or be impounded. These guys held informal meetings of RV residents, neighbors, Seattle Police, and local business owners to discuss and problem solve. Their grass-roots leadership has led to finding stable places for a few RV residents, but others still need places to go. Please do what you can to help.


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