Last week (Sept 7) the City of Seattle released summaries of two reports from homelessness consultants that make recommendations for how the city and county address this crisis in our community. Some of the key findings and recommendations, include:
- focus on programs that give people short-term help to return to permanent housing faster, rather than transitional housing
- provide 24×7 facilities like the San Francisco Navigation Center model that lowers barriers to shelter and offers services that are tailored to the needs of homeless individuals and families
- institute a more efficient process for assessing the needs of people without homes and determining what help they should receive
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced the “Pathways Home” plan that addresses many of the report recommendations and includes a goal to move 500 unsheltered families indoors by the end of 2017. We are excited and hopeful for these changes, and grateful for the resources and focus that our community is committing to solving this crisis.
As the largest provider in the region, Mary’s Place has a proven track record of success. We have been working with families experiencing homelessness since 1999. We opened our first emergency night shelter in 2010 to bring families inside, together, to warmth and safety at night.
Today, with your help, Mary’s Place operates six crisis response family shelters that provide refuge and community for 400 family members experiencing homelessness. Last week, we got 133 school-age children enrolled and off to school! We do this in loaned buildings awaiting development, for $14 dollars per person/per night. Our intent is to make a stay at Mary’s Place as short as possible. Within 48 hours of arriving at a Mary’s Place shelter, our advocates are working with families to address barriers and develop housing and financial stability plans.
We doubled our capacity in 2016 and still our shelters are full nearly every night, except when we have been constrained by bureaucratic intake policies. We were pleased to be able to work with the county to change that process and ensure that no bed remains empty when there are children sleeping outside.
We know that wraparound services are key to moving families forward. Our Family Center in north Seattle is a 24×7 shelter for 100 family members that provides beds, meals, showers, and laundry, as well as individualized counseling and services from Mary’s Place Housing & Wellness Advocates and access to more than 40 co-located service providers.
We support the goal of reducing barriers to shelter. Our shelters accommodate all types of family configurations, including single moms, single dads, extended families, and now families with pets – allowing families to stay together during this challenging time in their lives. But we also take the safety of our families and children very seriously. Providing a safe haven for children, domestic violence survivors, and vulnerable families is our priority.
As a partner with the city and county on the goal of ending family homelessness, we have made it a mission that NO CHILD SLEEPS OUTSIDE and continue to work and build until that is achieved, but it will require all of us working together. We are proud to partner with leading companies and organizations in our community to provide a roof, basics, and safety to vulnerable parents with kids each night.
You are what makes this possible! We could not continue to expand, to open more shelters, and to bring in more families without your faith and support. Watch for exciting news from Mary’s Place in the next few months about our plans, and how you can help!
If you have any questions, I hope that you will contact me or Mary’s Place Executive Director, Marty Hartman. I welcome your ideas and feedback.
JJ McKay, Board Chair