Letters to the Editor

Emergency help: Supply vs. demand | Federal Way letters

I have advocated for homeless children and their families in Washington for 21 years.

Every day, I witness families desperate to keep their kids together and safe. Many times my staff and I can help with emergency services and temporary housing. But for too many children and their families, we must turn them away because we do not have room.

I looked back at how many children Multi-Service Center (MSC) in Federal Way had to turn away last year. Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 9, 2009, 2,712 children and 1,887 of their adult family members were turned away from shelter. That totaled 1,331 families struggling to stay together. Often, families have to split up to be housed. Many shelters do not allow teenagers or adult male family members. These staggering numbers only include those who contacted MSC for shelter space. Currently at MSC, there is a three- to six-month wait list. Shelters in King County operate at full capacity on most days. Waiting for space likely meant disrupted sleep patterns and irregular school attendance for these 2,712 children. Some slept many nights with inadequate heat.

Unsheltered family homelessness is the hidden sect of homelessness. They stay hidden for many reasons, including safety and not wanting the homeless label for their children or themselves.

Think of that number 2,712 — that is enough children to fill six schools with an enrollment of 400-450 students. All 2,712 children without a permanent home! Isn’t it our ethical and moral obligation to insist that our government, at every level, is aware of these numbers and make housing for these children and their families a priority?

Please join me in contacting your local representatives and senators at (800) 562-6000) to ask the question: “How are you supporting the end to homelessness?”

Tammy Money, housing supervisor, Multi-Service Center

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