FROM HOMELESSNESS TO UPSTANDING CITIZEN
I believe it is possible for any person to grow and change, to become a better version of who they were yesterday. I believe this because I’m living proof that a person can climb from homelessness, drug addiction, alcoholism, and destitution, to being a successful contributing member of society. I grew up in a drug addict family. I thought being an alcoholic drug addict was my fate, until I decided to become sober 15 years ago. I learned how to behave properly, live productively, and participate in society. Today I thrive. I own a prosperous small business and consider myself a contributing citizen of Federal Way. I believe every day is a possibility to improve myself and the world around me. I believe we are all capable of doing so.
In 2019, I started the Federal Way Homelessness Coalition. We were a group of Federal Way citizens, who, with the help of the Federal Way City Council, local social workers, and police enforcement, were working on the homelessness issue in our city. Unfortunately, COVID arrived, and I shut down the coalition for our protection. During the months I was chairing the meetings, we devised a plan to stop the growing homelessness issue taking place in our city:
STEPS TO REDUCE HOMELESSNESS
- Streamlining Services
The service providers in our city are fragmented. They are barely aware of one another, and they do not work together, in spite of the fact they should be doing so. The city does not even have a listing of services on it’s website. The judicial system is not working directly with the service providers. The first part of my plan is to gather the services, the city leaders, and the judicial system into an efficient, streamlined system that presents a united front. Our services, city, and judicial system must work together in order to defeat homelessness.
- Direct Intervention
We’ve learned from the example Seattle sets that throwing money at the problem does not work. We need to get to know our homeless population. They are human beings and a part of our community. We must discern between homeless drug addicts and the working poor/housing insecure, then treat each case accordingly. This takes time, patience, and hard work. Once we establish trusting relationships with our homeless community members, we can safely offer the CORRECT services applicable to each person. They will be funneled into the proper programs for their needs, and given the opportunity to learn to live productive lives.
- Job Training and Housing
People need to feel safe. People need to be productive and learn to stand on their own two feet. When you have nothing to lose, it’s easy to give up and give in to poor choices and addiction. When you have a good job, a safe home, relationships with healthy people, and a reason to get out of bed every day, it’s easy to choose life and health over existing outside and living under constant stress.
- Ongoing Treatment and Support
Once our clients are integrated into the Federal Way Community, we will continue to offer support and assistance for a minimum of 2 years. This may seem like a long commitment, but from my experience, it takes time for a person to adjust to a life of “normalcy” after living on the streets. This is a commitment I’m willing to make for the sake of our city.