From Don Fornoff, Task Force on Homelessness Member:
In 2019 the Task Force Presented at Convention some thoughts and facts about the homelessness situation in Washington state. None of the facts surrounding the unhoused have changed. A homeless person has a name but no permanent residence. Think about that. John Smith of XYZ, WA can conduct his life safely and securely. John Smith of _____ WA has no place to relate to, and personal business is harder to take care of. Of course, we know this, but do we know the full situation? It’s all exacerbated by many who are just getting by.
In 2019, 37% of our neighbors were unable to afford housing costs. It’s worse now.
In 2019, 4 of 5 employed neighbors hadn’t the savings for first and last months rent. Now?
Affordable housing is the root cause of homelessness. Housing shouldn’t cost more than 30% of income. I am afraid to see the up-to-date figures.
There is hope. Convention 2022 is over and our team has met many parish members who are committed to doing something to support our unhoused neighbors. The task force continues to gather more information and share with others. Now we are trying to concentrate on extending the mission, assisting with problem solving, and providing help and counsel in showing the way to action. The faith community has long been a stalwart supporter of ways and means to serve the homeless. Many – I dare say most – parishes in the Diocese of Olympia have been doing good deeds since homelessness became a major issue in our communities. Let’s keep doing better works even as our towns and cities are getting better at targeting the issues.
What approaches can be taken?
- Person-to-person interaction (manna bags, safe) pouch ministry)
- Feeding programs (start your own or join with others)
- Ecumenical outreach participation
- Interfaith coalitions
- Support for cold weather shelters or cooling stations
- Tent city encampment rotation
- Safe parking (especially helpful)
- Tiny House building (and siting if you have property)
- Legislative advocacy
In leaving off until next time, I’ll pose a question and answer. Why do the homeless stay where they do? The question isn’t why; the question is where on earth do we expect them to go?
Go in peace to serve and to love.
Task Force member