The frustration of a community where more than 12,000 people experience homelessness every day reached a tipping point during the head tax debate. We began to point fingers at anyone and everyone – government, business, philanthropy, and all too often at the very people struggling to find a home.
But there isn’t one entity to blame for the rising cost of housing, stagnant wages for low income workers, institutional racism, housing discrimination, weak mental health system in WA, or institutions that discharge people into homelessness. The crisis of homelessness is our collective shame and our collective failure.
We know that helping people move quickly people into stable housing is the solution and, when necessary, providing additional supports. But we have failed to invest in solutions at the scale of the problem.
And then Pearl Jam came along. Through The Home Shows, the band seems to have done what no one else could – give people hope that we could band together and address this crisis. By mobilizing public and private partners, caring citizens and even jaded neighbors, they helped raise more than $12 million to address homelessness, increase issue awareness, and led more than 50 business partners in calling for a shared strategy.
It’s not every day that a rock band will have this type of impact. We have a once in a generation opportunity to turn this moment into a movement to end homelessness.
Soon there will be more task forces, studies, commissions, and plans. We’re hopeful these efforts will create lasting change, but the 6,000 people sleeping outside tonight cannot wait for studies or recommendations. They need action. They need housing.
We’re excited about strong calls to action from Third Door Coalition to address chronic homelessness and from Sonya Campion on policy changes that we can advocate for this year. At United Way, our vision is to harness this moment and turn it into both short- and long-term action. We want to join forces with you to raise the money necessary to prevent 15,000 people from becoming homeless, bring 2,400 people into shelter, and help more than 8,000 find stable housing this year. Together we can:
- Make a visible difference in the number of people on the streets by connecting people with housing and income.
- Prevent more people from becoming homeless through data-driven solutions.
- Spark innovation for long-term supply-side housing solutions.
- Build the public and political will for a serious investment long-term investment in housing.
We hope you will join us in calling for action.