I just read a few articles on the state of homelessness in King County, Washington which is where I live. Just for the hell of it, I did a Google search on homeless help and laughed at what I saw. As a homeless person, it is blaringly obvious that all of the sites I looked at were apple polished; that is, they put on a great show of what they do for homeless people and it all looks good on paper so to speak but the truth is, not one of them had the balls to mention how LONG it will take for their programs to get people into stable housing. Go ahead and “Google” homeless resources for your town and see for yourself. Better yet, call one of the numbers you find and ask point blank what the waiting lists are and see if you get an straight answer!
Friends that meant well but had no idea how many organizations I’ve applied to all these years will often suggest a program or site they heard about. I checked one out that a childhood friend told me about so when I went to look at their website, I was not surprised that you cannot self-refer to the agency, you have to call 211 and get referred. Here’s what they don’t say; after you wait anywhere from one to two weeks for an appointment, then go in to get your info taken, you get put on a waiting list. I did find one agency in South King County that I could directly apply to via the web but at least these folks were kind enough to say right off the bat that they had no vacancies and they didn’t know when they would but I was free to keep reapplying every month.
Here’s what worries me about homeless folks being put on years long waiting list; anything can happen within the time that they’re waiting! Anything from losing their cell phones to losing their lives will affect how soon they find housing in the meantime. What happens if you lose or break your phone and can’t afford to get another one? Those “Obama” phones are great if you can get one but uh, where will it get sent to if you have no address? This is a small sample of what I see homeless folks go through every day, including myself!
I recently ran into one of my homeless mom’s at a South King County library, I wrote about her when she had a miscarriage in a Kent park due to not being able to find any homeless help when she needed it. She told me she is still on a housing waiting list and that although she was told 30 people were ahead of her on the same waiting list, nobody could tell her how long it would take before her name came up. So far she’s been able to find a job but it’s not enough to pay rent so after almost two years, she is still couch surfing.
At the community garden I have a pea patch in, I met a couple who had to wait 2 years to get into a family shelter, another 3 years to get into transitional housing WHILE they both worked low wage jobs and they are still waiting to hear from Section 8. They are worried that they won’t be able to find housing before their time limit is up which leads me to an article I read in Real Change News that quoted SHA Executive Director Andrew Lofton as saying “We believe [residents] will be successful in securing those living wage jobs. If they don’t, they will have a very difficult time in our housing and in paying their rent.” See for yourself here >http://realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/9119 Umm…question to Andrew from me is….WHAT LIVING WAGE JOBS?!
You can put on a good front but the bottom line is that you’re still the same old rotten fruit.