United Way’s strategic response to help make homelessness rare, brief and one-time.
Whether a result of domestic violence, medical challenges, job loss or something else, when someone becomes homeless it is a true personal crisis. United Way invests in organizations that help people experiencing homelessness get back on their feet.
We know what works and with guidance from the recent SWAP and Poppe reports, are focusing our efforts.
By diverting people from the emergency shelter system, moving long-stayers out of shelter and holding providers accountable, we can significantly reduce the number of unsheltered people in King County.
Rapid Re-Housing works and it’s a national best practice. It focuses on moving people back into housing quickly.
An example of Rapid Re-Housing at work is Nicole’s story. Nicole had lost her housing and was staying in an emergency shelter. She connected with a case manager to find a housing solution right away. After that, she was connected with financial counseling and enrolled in an employment program so that she had the tools she needed to remain housed.
This is the “Brief” part of our goal to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time. Rapid rehousing is the best way to keep people from spiraling into sustained homelessness.
It’s a fact: the faster you get off the street the more likely you’re able to stay off the streets. We are are investing in rental access strategies like the Landlord Liaison Project.
This approach helped people like Meryl and her 3 children when her husband passed away and they lost their apartment. She got some assistance with subsidized housing vouchers but her long-time landlord did not want to accept them. Catholic Community Services stepped in and helped with short-term housing and job training. Then the Landlord Liaison was able to negotiate on her behalf with her original landlord and she’s back in the family’s original apartment. Now that is a success!
The shelter system takes care of getting out of the cold at night. But, you can’t leave your belongings there and go out and find a job. It’s difficult to be homeless and work on your path out of homelessness. That’s why we want to increase the capacity and effectiveness of shelters to focus on moving clients on to permanent housing.
Consider Dan’s experience. He is chronically depressed and lost his housing. United Way’s VISTA outreach workers connected with him while he was staying in an encampment. They helped him move to emergency shelter, and eventually, helped him find permanent supportive housing.
One way to reduce the number of homeless individuals and families in Seattle is to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. So many in our community live paycheck to paycheck and just one small event can get them off track.
In Hasan’s case, he was on a low-income housing wait list for years. His job reduced his work hours which put his family of 5 in serious jeopardy of being evicted from their home. Fortunately, our partners at Wellspring gave the family financial assistance to avoid eviction. Then our partners at the Seattle Housing Authority stepped in to find them low-income housing.
We will increase our investments to help keep people in their homes.