Small ideas can have a big impact. That’s the spirit behind Magnolia Lutheran Church’s campaign to collect 10,000 socks to give to their neighbors in need. During a visit to Compass Housing Alliance’s Pioneer Square hygiene center, a staffperson said, “Around here, socks are gold.”
Pastor Kevin Bates and his congregation asked themselves, “How can we share some gold with our neighbors?” They knew that about 10,000 people in Seattle and King County are homeless, including those who live in shelters and transitional housing and those who are without any shelter. Could they collect 10,000 pairs of socks, one for each person in their community experiencing homelessness?
The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Pastor Bates, with parishioners Deborah Moser-Donlen, Beth Harwood and Nancy Debaste, set to work, and the donations came rushing in. Strideline, a local sock company, stepped up with a donation of 2,000 socks. In just a few months, congregation members gathered 10,186 pairs of socks. After a blessing at the church March 16, the socks were donated to Compass Housing Alliance, where they are now being distributed among the hundreds of people we serve each week.
As Pastor Bates noted, “Generosity begets generosity.” If your congregation has an idea for how you’d like to support the work of Compass Housing Alliance, please contact Anna Baker at 206-474-1071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Falcon had a good job, money in the bank and a prosperous life, first in San Francisco and then in New York City.
But that was before things fell apart, before her life savings were swallowed up in a bad investment and her mental health began to unravel. Where once there had been a happy, healthy person, now Michael was homeless and grappling with mental illness. It look a lot of hard work — and some support from Compass Housing Alliance — to get herself back on the right path.
In sharing her story, Michael says she wants to break through the misconception that homelessness only happens to certain people.
“I want people to know that it can happen to anyone,” Michael says.
It was after receiving word that she’d lost her life savings — more than $80,000 — that Michael checked herself in to the hospital, where she was treated for mental illness. She lost her job, and with it, the means to pay for her housing. Fortunately, she had her family by her side throughout the ordeal. When she left the hospital, she went to live with her father and stepmother.
“They helped pick up the pieces,” Michael says of her family. “I had a catcher’s mitt.”
She knows that many people who experience homelessness are not so lucky. Still, the living arrangement was not without its challenges, and Michael knew she needed to find stable housing.
“An adult child living with adult parents at home is not an ideal situation — you need to have your own space,” she says.
She found it in Compass Housing Alliance, first at the Cascade Women’s transitional housing program, and then at the Karlstrom Apartments, a permanent housing location in Pioneer Square.
Being in a stable, supportive environment with her own space proved invaluable. The time allowed her to work through the mental health issues that were at the root of her homelessness. The change didn’t happen overnight, but by attending to her health needs, Michael made gradual improvement.
“These programs work, and they help people get back on their feet,” she says.
Now, she’s going back to school to get her degree. She’s already graduated from South Seattle Community College with her Associate’s Degree, earning a 3.8 GPA and being named to the Dean’s List five times.
In the fall of 2013, she transferred to the University of Washington, where she’s working on her degree in communications. It will be an important next step for Michael, as she aims to re-enter the workforce and rebuild her life. Looking back on how far she’s come, she said she’s thankful for the supportive housing she found with Compass Housing Alliance.
“I’m so grateful to have a warm, dry, safe place to rest my head—a place to call home,” Michael says. “I thank God for that.”
We’re excited to announce that the Bank of America Charitable Foundation has selected us for its Neighborhood Builders program. The award includes leadership training for select staff and $200,000 in unrestricted grant funding.
With this funding from Bank of America, we will focus on the development side of our mission by creating permanent housing with services and resources for struggling individuals and families. Following the recent success of our new low-income housing at Nyer Urness House in Ballard, we’re proceeding to new projects in our Connect Live Grow capital campaign. Over the next three years, our planned developments will add another 136 units of affordable housing in the Greater Seattle area.
Upcoming projects include the opening of a new Day Center with 50 shelter beds on Rainier Avenue; the Compass on Dexter project in South Lake Union, with affordable housing and support services for families and individuals; and Ronald Commons in Shoreline, which will offer affordable housing for low-income individuals, families and veterans.
As the results of the 2014 One Night Count show, the need for expanded affordable housing and shelter capacity in King County is tremendous. This award enables Compass Housing to continue to expand its reach to individuals and families in need, allowing us to serve more people in 2014 and beyond than ever before.
The annual One Night Count found 3,123 people living without shelter in Seattle and King County.
That number represents a 14 percent increase from last year and the highest total in the history of the count.
At Compass Housing’s Pioneer Square location, count volunteers arrived in the small hours of the morning of Friday, Jan. 24 to check in with their teams and go over their survey areas. What they found ─ under roadways and in alleys, in makeshift campsites and in cars parked in sprawling retail lots ─ underscores the dramatic need for an increase in shelter beds and affordable housing in Seattle and King County.
Each person living without shelter has a story to tell ─ of the couple sleeping in their car, in a parking lot that will crowd with shoppers by day; of the family living in a tent, a stroller outside the flap; of the teenager huddled in a doorway, backpack at his side.
Together, they present a dramatic call to action to do everything we can to build a safe, caring community for all.
Compass Housing staff and members of our board joined the throngs of people who traveled to Olympia on Jan. 28 for the 2014 Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day. The annual lobbying day is an opportunity for service providers, advocates and concerned citizens to appeal directly to their state legislators to support greater resources and funding for affordable housing, homelessness prevention and support services.
Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day is our chance to join all of our voices together in solidarity for building a safer, caring community for all. Individuals who have experienced homelessness, among them people who access Compass Housing Alliance services, travel from around our state to be a part of this unique event.
If you missed this year’s advocacy day, it’s not too late to let your state Legislators know that you stand with Compass Housing Alliance in support of affordable housing and support services. Visit www.leg.wa.gov and find your district to contact your elected representatives. Your voice counts!