Moving Toward No Child Sleeps Outside

June 28, 2017

When we kicked off our annual 2016 No Child Sleeps Outside campaign last November, our partners at Starbucks and Amazon asked us to “think BIG” about addressing family homelessness. “What would it take,” they asked, “to bring them all inside?” We sharpened our pencils and dug deep to answer the question about how to provide shelter to just over 1,000 homeless family members.

At that time, we were operating six shelters that provided 400 beds plus housing, employment, and wellness resources, as well as basic needs. Our campaign goal, to raise $2 million, would allow us to expand capacity to 750 beds in three years. Our stretch goal, the BIG dream, to shelter 1,100 family members together with comprehensive services, would take five years and nearly $10 million.

When our community came together to raise over $4 million in the campaign last year, we went back to the drawing board. Today, thanks to your generosity, we will reach our goal of 750 beds in just one year, and sustain those beds through 2020!

In the last six months, we have provided 85% more bed nights than the same time last year. By the end of July, we will have opened four new shelters that are providing a home-for-now for a total of 670 moms, dads, and kids.

In March, together with King County, we opened a Family Center and shelter in a former public health building in White Center for 70 family members; and our newest location in Shoreline, a former restaurant, provides shelter for 40 moms and kids. Our transition from the old Travelodge Hotel to an old Days Inn Hotel in the Denny Regrade neighborhood, buildings on loan from Amazon, provided an additional 100 beds in the larger space. And in early July we will open another Family Center and shelter in Kenmore in a former King County Sheriff’s precinct for 80 family members.

We’ve worked closely with our partners at the City of Seattle and King County over the last six months to share our and our family’s experiences and successess and help to shape positive changes as they have reevaluated their processes and policies on homelessness.

One of our big goals is to serve families that are unsheltered in cities outside of Seattle, and we are in discussions Auburn, Federal Way, and Tukwila to provide family shelter in those locations as well. And our new diversion specialists are working with unsheltered families to help rehouse them quickly without ever entering shelter. In four months we have diverted 24 families directly into permanent housing.

We are unwavering in our commitment that no child should sleep outside; but are equally dedicated to helping our families find permanent, stable housing. We continue to think BIG about how to move our families into permanent housing.

It’s no surprise that there is a shortage of affordable housing in our community and we are working hard to develop win-win relationships and partnerships with landlords. The success of the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign has also allowed us to add staff to hire housing locators to help find permanent housing for our families, and stabilization specialists to work with families in housing to ensure their success.

So far in 2017, we have moved 72 families into more stable housing–an increase of 30%. If you are a landlord with an affordable unit, or know someone who is, please contact us to talk about how we can work together to help our courageous families start again. In King County, only 4% of families who receive housing assistance return to homelessness.

The generosity of our community provides the funding; corporations, businesses, and property owners provide the buildings we can convert to shelter; and local landlords and employers work with us to provide housing and jobs. If you can help with any of these essential elements of our BIG plan, please contact us. We’d love to talk to you about how we can solve our community crisis of family homelessness together!