Most people think that it takes years of investment and millions of dollars to end homelessness. But every week, SideWalk shows that it doesn’t have to be that way.
SideWalk volunteers and staff help anywhere from 100-300 people escape the streets every year. Surprisingly, including both direct rental assistance and overhead, it only costs on average $1,074 per person – period.
It’s pretty clear why. Like most poor people, people experiencing homelessness are resilient and know how to stretch a dollar. They are creative in a crisis, and we know that they are the best experts of their own situation. The limited amount of funding we can offer inspires our participants to look for outside-the-box solutions. That’s why, since 2012, SideWalk volunteers have helped over 1,500 people escape the streets – and about 80% of the people we’ve served since 2012 remain off the streets to this day.
What is a home?
A door that locks. A kitchen to cook in. The basic dignity of a private bathroom. Every person in our community deserves these things. As the cost of rent grows, though, an increasing number of people in our community are finding themselves without a safe place to call home. Every year, about 900 people fall into homelessness in Thurston County. About 25% of these are considered highly vulnerable due to a life-threatening combination of factors including mental illness and chronic health conditions.
No one is a throw-away person. The people who are most vulnerable and who have the greatest needs should receive the greatest support and should be served first. That’s why we use a vulnerability based, triage-style admissions process rather than “first-come, first-served” for more intensive services – because our greatest obligation is to those with the greatest needs.
For our most vulnerable neighbors, we offer Peer Supported Rapid Rehousing, staffed by people who have experienced homelessness. Peer Supported Rapid Rehousing combines short-term rental assistance with wraparound case management from someone who’s been there before. A person who has experienced homelessness can feel overwhelmed, or like there’s no way out – and nobody can restore hope like a peer who’s already overcome homelessness.
When someone becomes homeless, the moral response is to help them find their way home – as quickly as possible. SideWalk’s Rapid Rehousing programs help people experiencing homelessness to quickly move off the streets and into homes. We do this by offering a small amount of short-term rent assistance to help people leap the hurdle posed by move-in costs. It’s like offering a bottle of water to someone running a marathon – our clients work incredibly hard, and we offer a small resource that boosts their success