Homelessness in King County
On any given night, there are 8,000 homeless men, women, and children in the suburban cities, urban centers, and rural towns of King County, including over 2,500 individuals who meet the federal definition for chronically homeless.
King County’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, a collaborative effort between the City of Seattle, the Church Council of Greater Seattle, King County, Eastside Human Services Alliance, North Urban Human Services Alliance, Seattle-King County Coalition for the Homeless, South King County Council of Human Services, and the United Way of King County, has the goal of eliminating homelessness in King County by the year 2014. FareStart is in alignment with the county’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness and is excited about the changes it will bring about in the way our community addresses homelessness.
This goal of ending – rather than managing – homelessness will be achieved by seeking long-term and sustainable solutions to the issue. Through the coordinative efforts of social service agencies, the 10-Year Plan aims to develop an enhanced community-based response throughout the county to the threat of homelessness before it happens.
As affordable housing options are increased significantly through this plan, FareStart will be dynamic in its outreach efforts to keep in line with the trends and needs of our Seattle-area community. As members of our community are placed in housing, the need for job-training will play a critical role in ensuring the self-sustainability of these individuals. FareStart’s culinary job training program will continue to reach out to those who lack the experience and on-the-job training, to help them achieve employment in the food service industry.
Around the United States
The Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), the federal branch responsible for overseeing homeless policy, is for the first time strongly advocating for an end to homelessness. Calling upon a strategy largely devised by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the ICH is encouraging local communities to produce and implement a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness.
These 10-year plans are being touted as a cost-effective solution to homelessness, as it is less expensive to house someone than it is to fund the otherwise needed myriad of services. The idea is to get all of the necessary parties—local/state governmental agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, service providers, faith-based entities, and homeless (or formally so) individuals—working in collaboration to develop a plan that will, in the future, prevent homeless before it occurs.
Catalyst Kitchens, a national effort led by FareStart, is a network of peers with a shared vision to empower lives through foodservice job-training, self-generate revenues through social enterprise, and nourish bodies and minds through quality foodservice. Catalyst Kitchens is predicated upon the belief that a network of like-minded organizations can increase individual impact by leveraging scale, sharing best practices, maintaining standards, and ultimately transforming more lives through food-service social enterprise. Over the next five years, Catalyst Kitchens will leverage the experience of model members across the country to launch 50 new programs, provide job training to 6,000 individuals and serve 10 million nutritious meals every year.
FareStart: Providing a Community
The first line of the FareStart mission statement – “FareStart provides a community that transforms lives” – is the crux of FareStart’s work. While there are many specific factors that lead to a person losing their home – mental illness, chemical dependency, domestic violence, a sudden financial hardship –the underlying factor of all of these is the lack of a connection to a supportive community.
That’s why it’s critical for FareStart to restore a student’s connection to their community, or provide that community if one never existed. By doing so, we support our students as they gain the skills and training necessary to build new futures for themselves and to achieve their goals of self-sustainability, employment, and ultimately, ending their personal cycle of homelessness.