A packed City Hall gave a standing ovation to the Federal Way City Council after they unanimously approved $100,000 of city funds for a day shelter on Tuesday.
Divided into $50,000 for 2015 and another $50,000 for 2016, the money will be used by the Federal Way Day Shelter Coalition to open the project this winter.
“We hear too many stories in this country about how divided we are, how broken our politics are, how little we are able to get done addressing the common problems we share, our most challenging problems,” said Reverend James Kubal-Komoto of Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church and member of the coalition. “But your action this evening will help Federal Way tell a different kind of a story, a story that can be a model for the rest of King County, the state of Washington and even our nation.”
The day shelter will provide a shower, hot meal, Internet access and mailing address to people who are homeless looking to make a better life for themselves. The 2,000-square-foot space near the Multi-Service Center will also be a resource for other services that help those in need.
“We can tell a story about what can happen when members of various faith traditions, community organizations, human service providers, government institutions and elected leaders listen to each other, work together and make a difference in this world we share,” Kubal-Komoto added.
The coalition is made up of community members from Sound Alliance, Catholic Community Services, Multi-Service Center, City Vision, Valley Cities, HealthPoint, King County Public Health, the Federal Way Community Caregiving Network and several churches.
“The tireless efforts of the day shelter coalition and our faith-based community to locate day shelter services in our community is remarkable, greatly appreciated and is directed to those most in need in our community,” said Mayor Jim Ferrell. “The city is pleased to support this effort as the real work begins to bring these services to fruition.”
The day shelter will be a three-year pilot project that could lead to a permanent day shelter in Federal Way and act as a model for the rest of South King County based on the information they collect.
“I’m sure a lot of you know this issue is dear to my heart,” said an emotional Councilwoman Lydia Assefa-Dawson at the council meeting. “… You did mention dignity and I know homelessness is very very hard when you have no place to stay and no place to shower. It’s hard to keep that dignity so it’s very important that we try to support people just so they have that.”
Having been homeless for a brief time herself, Assefa-Dawson said there are stories after stories of why people are homeless and that it’s important not to judge.
“This is what makes Federal Way so impressive and special to me, is people caring for other people,” Councilwoman Susan Honda said.
Every other council member had positive feedback for the coalition, including Councilman Martin Moore who announced he was “fired up” and enthused to vote for the project funding.
But the coalition isn’t done yet.
The day shelter still needs about $55,000 to retrofit the building. With the goal of raising $30,000 of that, the coalition launched a non-event fundraiser called “Bags of Hope.”
Retrofitting will include a new bathroom with an additional shower, a laundry facility, kitchen and open-floor concept for Catholic Community Services to monitor.
The coalition has also been filling out grant applications for $100,000 in state planning funds but doesn’t expect it to be available until next year.
The annual One Night Count estimates Federal Way’s homeless population to hover around 105 people but with approximately 40 in other shelters and 40-50 more estimated by the Church of the Good Shepherd, that brings the total closer to 200 people in need of a laundry facility, shower, hot meal and resources this day shelter will provide.
To donate toward “Bags of Hope,” visit fwdayshelter.wix/fwdayshelter or mail donations to Federal Way Day Shelter PO Box 4154, Federal Way, WA 98063.