A small group discusses how domestic violence can lead women to homelessness. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

A small group discusses how domestic violence can lead women to homelessness. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Eastside groups discuss homelessness and affordable housing at community events

Five area service providers recently hosted a joint event to educate community members about the impacts of homelessness.

Timed with King County’s Affordable Housing Week, Bellevue was home to multiple community events last week to inform residents on the topic of homelessness and affordable housing in the region.

Five King County housing and service providers hosted “The Difference a Home Makes” to educate attendees about the impacts of homelessness and the work required to provide more housing in the county.

The Sophia Way, Attain Housing, Congregations for the Homeless, Imagine Housing and LifeWire put on a joint event at First Congregational Church in Bellevue. The event included a presentation on the current state of housing and homelessness in the county.

Linda Benson, director of community development for The Sophia Way, led the presentation and discussed three major myths regarding homelessness that the five organizations have found to be prevalent in their areas of work.

“From a systemic perspective, the only way we are going to be able to get ourselves out of this mess is if we create the awareness and the will to create the resources to develop enough affordable housing for everyone, which is a lot,” she said. “The key here is to shift people’s perceptions of the blame from those experiencing homelessness to the underlying systems that are creating the conditions that people literally cannot survive unless we do something pretty dramatic.”

Benson broke down three myths.

The first is that people who are homeless are lazy and don’t want jobs. She said that many people try very hard to hold on to their jobs, but surviving while homeless can be a full-time job in itself. She also said that more than 40 percent of homeless people in the area float between part-time and full-time work, but that isn’t enough to afford any housing in an area like Bellevue.

The second myth Benson discussed was that homelessness is a choice, which is only true in cases of domestic violence when choosing homelessness is the only safe choice to make.

The third myth, she explained, was that people are homeless due to their own mistakes or failings. Benson said the ultimate responsibility for homelessness rests at the systemic level, particularly in the area of affordable housing.

After Benson’s presentation, attendees were broken up into smaller groups to hear the personal stories of homelessness told by people who have been helped by the organizations’ services. Clients and their case managers spoke about the circumstances that forced these individuals into homelessness and the struggles they faced trying to survive.

One man spoke to the groups about bringing his family to the Mary’s Place homeless shelter for nine months before being able to work with Attain Housing to find an affordable housing solution. Another person spoke about how The Sophia Way women’s shelter helped her get off of the streets and began helping her find housing.

King County Council member Claudia Balducci, who also attended the event, said opportunities to hear from the people who have had to contend without having a home are very valuable to people who have never had to deal with it themselves. She also talked about efforts to address this issue being pursued on a county level through two initiatives.

“There’s the Regional Affordable Housing Task Force effort that I co-chair that has got Seattle, King County, Bellevue, and other cities throughout King County participating, that’s a long range, what are we going to do about the cost of housing,” Balducci said. “Then there is the One Table effort, convened by the city of Seattle, Auburn and King County, their laser focus is on homelessness and helping people get off the streets.”

Benson said the feedback and questions they received from the event will be discussed among the organizations and questions received from attendees will be answered by the representatives from the various sponsor organizations as well.

Earlier in the week, the community group Clarity Bellevue also hosted an event in Bellevue on homelessness. Tzachi Litov, a representative of the group, said they decided to hold their meeting to educate to provide additional context regarding Bellevue’s goal of establishing a homeless shelter in the city. Litov said they wanted to have a forum to share unbiased information and educate Bellevue residents on many aspects of homeless shelters.

The group invited several speakers for a live discussion on the topic of homeless shelters. The panel featured executive director of Downtown Emergency Service Center Daniel Malone, executive director of New Horizons in Seattle Rob Stewart, board chair of Northwest Urban Ministries Deryl Davis-Bell and founder of Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill Eleanor Owen.

Clarity Bellevue has the full recording of their panel discussion uploaded to Facebook and YouTube and can be found on the official Clarity Bellevue Facebook page.

James, left, speaks about his time living in homelessness with his case manager Greg McLeod from Attain Housing. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

James, left, speaks about his time living in homelessness with his case manager Greg McLeod from Attain Housing. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

More in News

‘This might have been a once in a generation opportunity’: Kenmore’s Lakepointe deal grinds to a halt

City officials unsure of what comes next for the more than 50 acre industrial site.

King County Flood Control District approves 2019 Budget on Nov. 5. Photo courtesy of King County Flood Control District.
King County Flood Control District approves $93 million budget

The 2019 District Budget will maintain current flood protection services.

Student veterans receive new resource center at UW Bothell

The Veterans Resource Center at UW Bothell was created after student veterans indicated they wanted a space designated for themselves.

Bothell voters approve public safety ballot measures

As of election night on Nov. 6, both the levy and bond were passing.

Democrats lead in 46th Legislative District

Voters are sending David Frockt, Gerry Pollet and Javier Valdez back to Olympia.

Democrats lead in 1st Legislative District

Derek Stanford and Shelley Kloba were successful in their re-election bids.

DelBene leads in 1st Congressional District in early returns

As of election night, incumbent Suzan DelBene was leading with 69 percent of the vote, to Jeffrey Beeler’s 31 percent.

UW Bothell Student Veterans Services held an Open House and Coffee event during this year’s Welcome Week and remains the main arm in helping veterans. The new resource center adds to this support. Photo courtesy of Marc Studer, UW Bothell
UW Bothell opens new veterans resource center on campus

The new Veteran Resource Center is designed to connect veterans and build relationships.

In Kenmore, the SMP applies to Lake Washington, Sammamish River, and Swamp Creek and associated wetlands. Bothell’s SMP, which was last updated in 2013, also governs development next to the Sammamish River (pictured) and Swamp Creek, along with North Creek. Photo courtesy of Mark Hussein
Bothell, Kenmore look to protect shorelines

Shoreline master programs protect and restore valuable aquatic resources for future generations.

Most Read