Written by Denise Miller, Firesteel Advocacy Manager
“You’re calling shelter after shelter after shelter. And they’re all full. And you don’t know where you’re going to go that night.”
Doris O’Neal, who manages a domestic violence program at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, told KUOW about abuse survivors’ experiences with homelessness. KUOW interviewed Doris after a press conference Monday at YWCA headquarters during which Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine declared that homelessness is in a state of emergency in Seattle and King County. Listen to the story on KUOW’s website.
Seattle’s declaration gives the city more flexibility to allocate resources as needed, and allows a formal request for emergency assistance from the state and federal governments.
Nearly 3,000 children in Seattle Public Schools are homeless; on average that’s at least one per classroom. And in the latest One Night Count, there were more than 2,800 men, women, and children without shelter on the streets of Seattle – a 21 percent increase over last year.
The mayor’s office has posted an FAQ on the state of emergency. There is also information on the All Home website about King County’s strategy for making homelessness rare, brief and not repeated.
The declarations make clear that homelessness can’t be solved at the local level. It’s going to require federal and state policy changes, and that’s going to require advocacy from all of us.
As we head into the 2016 state legislative session, stay tuned to Firesteel and our partners at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance for actions you can take to help create opportunities for everyone to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. And mark your calendar for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on Feb. 2. It’s your chance to tell lawmakers that you want all members of our community — including survivors of domestic violence — to have a safe place to go at night.