Homelessness in Federal Way
Homelessness has become a major regional issue and its impact has been felt by the citizens and businesses of Federal Way. While there are probably more opinions on how to address homelessness than there are actual homeless the homelessness advocacy groups and engaged citizens are unified in their compassion for portion of our community. In the City of Federal Way a committed group of citizens and experts were able to develop a list of recommendations to address Homelessness for the Council to consider moving forward.
An important first step in addressing any issue is understanding what our responsibility is so we can take ownership of the solutions within our ability and means to address. Currently in the City of Seattle the City and charities combined spend about $100,000 per homeless person in an attempt to provide the services they believe necessary to serve this population. While this is a staggeringly high amount of money it illustrates that money alone, whether rendered in direct aid or in support of agencies serving the homeless, is not the solution. The other part of this issue is the reality that every homeless person has their own story and reasons for being homeless. Understanding this, a “one size fits all” solution will not work.
Here in Federal Way, while we don’t have the resources of Seattle, we as a community have a huge heart and a willingness to be a part of the solution. Whether its faith motivated organizations such as Fusion, Reach Out, or the Federal Way Caregiving Network or organizations such as the Multi-Service Center (MSC) or Valley City’s there are hundreds of volunteers and employees working to create solutions for those experiencing homeless. I appreciate the services provided by all of these organizations and believe that by serving this part of our community they are operating in their passion and love for their fellow man. As a member of the Council I have been honored to serve along side many in these organizations as well as personally contribute to them. I believe the first step in creating solutions is understanding the issues and then being willing to partner with those involved in creating solutions.
Getting beyond the personal decisions each of us can make to support the organizations mentioned previously, is the decision of the Council, in consultation with the Human Services Commission, to provide funding to support these organizations. Based on the size of this issue, it would be easy for some to argue for more funding to support the organizations addressing the needs of the homeless is necessary. Based on the example of Seattle though, Federal Way just doesn’t have the resource available to address this issue, as compassionate and desirous of change as we are. Based on limited resources, rather than supporting the organizations serving the homeless, the City has chosen to create partnerships by partially funding them through grants or general fund revenue.
Going forward there will continue to be a need for discussion and funding to address the needs of this community with our City. One thing I have observed is cities coming up with solutions that could be viewed as unconventional but create solutions. I’m open to looking for alternatives to the way things currently are, including identifying additional funding, as I think funding is going to be a key component of any plan to increase our partnership with the service providers. The City of Olympia chose to address the issue of homelessness by passing a Home Fund Levy that is used in part to create housing for the homeless. The continued efforts by the Human Services staff to identify funding through National, State, and County funding sources and grants is another way to supplement the City’s general fund contribution. In the end, while there are many ways to create solutions, it is committed leadership that makes solutions a reality.
As a member of the Council Mark has proven to be a compassionate leader committed to making solutions a reality. By balancing the need for homelessness services with the responsibility to honor and respect the citizens and businesses who call Federal Way home, Mark believes we can find solutions to address the impacts of homelessness felt by too many within our City.