Our main project right now is providing supportive services to Camp Second Chance, a self-governing nonprofit at 9701 Myers Way South in Seattle, WA. We also provide supportive services to individuals in King County who are experiencing homelessness. Some of our participants are living in shelters, authorized camps run by other nonprofits, or transitional housing. Some are living in unauthorized encampments. Some are living in vehicles, squatting in abandoned houses, or camping secretly and alone or with family. We prioritize helping those who are underserved and not accessing services at other nonprofits.
In King County, there are at least 4,500 people sleeping outside after the shelters are full.
Homeless people are diverse; therefore, in order to serve them all, we need a diversity of program models designed to meet the different needs of different groups.
Housing is a basic human right and all people deserve safe and sanitary indoor housing. However, in King County the need for affordable housing far outstrips our current capacity. Wait lists for housing are up to three years long. Every single person needs a safe place to sleep TONIGHT, while they seek long term solutions to homelessness. They also need food, hygiene access, medical care, and community support.
We need immediate alternatives for people sleeping on the streets that are both safe and acceptable to the participants. People need safety, but they ALSO need community, compassion, and respect. Nobody should have to give up their dignity to survive. Everyone needs a safe place to sleep tonight, and a safe place to leave their belongings while they work, look for work, go to school, go to the laundromat, and do all of the other things we all need to do every day.
To learn more about why encampments are a necessary immediate survival need while we continue to work for housing justice for all, please check out the policy brief “No Rest for the Weary: Why Cities Should Embrace Homeless Encampments,” published by Seattle University’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project and available here.
For a list of encampments in King County, visit the Greater Seattle Cares website, here.
Working together, we can turn the tide on homelessness. We can fix this, but only if we start thinking outside the box. What we have been doing is NOT working; the situation is getting worse every year. Doubling down on what is not working is not the solution. We need innovative, well managed, compassionate programs with measurable outcomes.