With approximately 1,000 newcomers arriving in our city on any given week, it’s a question I welcome: Where are you from? Each time I am reminded of—and thankful for—the good fortune to be a native of this incredible city, Seattle. Perched at the crossroads of the Asia Pacific and the hub of an economic powerhouse, the Emerald City leads the way for the tech industry, scientific research, global health and development and academic excellence.
Today however, a surge of job opportunities and growth, our city leads in other ways. Rising median home prices have doubled in just five years to over $700,000 and soaring rents are pricing people out of their homes. The social safety net is worn thin. This puts our city in the eye of a perfect storm that is sweeping more and more people to life on the streets.
As we all give thanks this week, I am also taking stock. Grateful for many blessings, I am asking, “what is the way forward for our region?”
The future is up to us. With the ongoing challenges of homelessness and the affordable housing shortage, it’s clear that we have to turn to smarter solutions. Enhanced shelter is top among them.
What is enhanced shelter?
Compass at First Presbyterian, which opened last August, is an example of the enhanced shelter model in action. It provides wrap-around services in a 24/7 framework. It allows residents to stay the night and the next day—for as long as they need. It’s not just a safe haven; it’s a launch pad for long-term housing. We show support rather than showing them the door every morning. Guests who work at night, such as brothers Dion and Brillian, are able to safely sleep during the day. Lowering barriers by allowing partners, pets and possessions, we are working with residents, providing much-needed resources, as they redefine their lives. And let there be no doubt, it’s working.
As Q13 explored in this recent piece, Compass at First Presbyterian’s “relentless team of helpers” connects guests with the services and support they need to build greater stability in their lives.
Success comes one person at a time
How do you make progress in this battle against homelessness? One person at a time, by responding to their individual and unique needs. How do you measure progress? Again, one person at a time. From a 100-bed shelter and in three short months of operations, we’ve already helped a number of guests find homes.
Family is a major pillar of the Thanksgiving celebration. Working with partners in the community, we were excited to reunite one of the shelter stayers with his family. To reunite a family that has experienced crisis and homelessness is a source of inspiration to our own Compass Housing Alliance family: our staff, our supporters and the many clients we work with throughout the year. We also take pride in helping people find stability while staying with their partners or pets. Whatever shape families take, we are honored to help them on their journey to permanent homes.
The transformation of Seattle’s homelessness crisis is founded in an ongoing drive to innovate, collaborate and partner across sectors. It’s a role in which Compass Housing Alliance continues to take bold and courageous steps toward smarter solutions. Seattle, once again, will be leading the charge, serving as the model and the blueprint to successfully address homelessness. We will be the city that other cities look to. I’m confident of it and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
Most of all, I am thankful for you, our community who offer their time, gifts, and donations, and for our partners who strengthen our programs in so many ways. Together, we make strides toward our vision of a world where everyone lives in a safe, caring community.
Executive Director, Compass Housing Alliance