We are so thankful for our incredible hosts, the Metropolist Group who used their space to invite members of the Seattle community to discuss homelessness with those on the front lines of this crisis and learn how they can help. KOMO News covered the event; check out their coverage here.
“Did you know that SODO has no public bathrooms?” Becky Gilley, our SODO outreach worker posed this question to the gathered crowd.
The disbelief in the room was palpable. It was clear that very few people in attendance had ever stopped to think about the daily struggles of homelessness in SODO or why homelessness has become such a challenge in their region.
“We used to think that homelessness was a problem of poverty, but it can also be seen as a problem of affluence,” said Chloe Gale, REACH co-director. Seattle’s rapid growth has been a boon to many in the city, but for people whose wages have not increased at the pace of the cost of living, the booming economy has only succeeded in pricing them out of housing.
After this brief introduction to REACH and our model of street outreach, attendees dispersed to small groups where REACH team members facilitated more intimate discussions to answer community members’ most pressing questions.
For those who couldn’t attend the event, the most common question asked was: What can I do to help? This is a common question posed to REACH from community members and we always have the same answer:
- Donate. Our donations go directly to our services, making our jobs possible to continue the necessary work to improve the lives of people living outside.
- Humanize. Our homeless population is treated as an invisible community and ignored. When they are acknowledged it is often to be criticized or looked down upon. Say hi, smile, have a conversation. These are all small acts we can do every day to show people who live in neighborhoods that we see them and acknowledge their humanity, instead of turning a blind eye. It can be uncomfortable and sometimes brushed aside, but talk to the people around you like you would any neighbor. Having these conversations can help turn “us and them” to just “us.”
Most people in our community know that homelessness is a growing concern and that something needs to be done about it. REACH strives to make our community livable and safe in the meantime. This event brought us a little closer to that goal. We have made it our mission to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness and we are so thankful for our hosts at the Metropolist group for supporting that mission.
Want to know when the next event like this is happening? Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date, and join us on May 8 for our 3rd Annual Luncheon. Interested in hosting an event like this one? Contact Tavia Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org.