Navigating Paths out of Homelessness
An easy lift.
What does that mean? It means that there are people presently experiencing homelessness who can be helped with a fairly simple gesture. Dues for a union card. Motel vouchers so you can start chemotherapy with a roof over your head.
There is no one reason why people experience homelessness. The barriers facing those on the street are as varied and singular as the people themselves. A one-size-fits-all solution isn’t possible, but the new Streets to Home program as it strives to solve homelessness in a personalized, face-to-face way.
Streets to Home outreach workers are from five homeless and mental health organizations – including Valley Cities, Congregations for the Homeless, REACH, Compass Housing Alliance and DESC – are out in communities meeting people in their current predicaments. This means addressing their most urgent, pressing obstacle to getting off the street. For one family of four, it meant first and last months’ rent while the mother of the family worked and covered the rest. For another couple, it meant getting the husband a union card and tools so he could put his skills to real use. For someone else, it’s a simple mechanical fix for their car that enables them to get back to work.
While programs like Streets to Home have been tried in Seattle before, this program’s scale is brand new. Nothing this large has been tried in King County as a whole. Streets to Home benefits from experienced, existing outreach staff at local agencies. The program’s flexible funding signals a departure from the old one-size-fits-all approach. Built-in safeguards, including the fact that funds must go to service vendors and not directly to individuals, means outreach workers can apply money in inventive ways to help people in their own, unique circumstance.
It’s agile. It’s fast-acting. And to someone experiencing homeless, that makes all the difference.
Early results of the program include dozens being helped, positive feedback from donors and a nice endorsement from The Seattle Times.