Count in a Crisis: Seattle Survey of Homeless & Unsheltered

Quick Take: Every January Seattle and King County undertake a survey to estimate the total homeless and unsheltered population in the area. This year the survey takes place in the context of Seattle’s ongoing homelessness crisis. The survey is being conducted under new leadership, which aims to capture a broad and accurate picture of the crisis. 

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On January 27th Seattle organization All Home will conduct King County’s annual effort to measure its homeless population. Seattle residents might be familiar with the name One Night Count, but this year the survey will be called “Count Us In.” The 2017 survey has a new name and a new organizer, but the effort will fulfill the same federally mandated requirement.

Every January, communities across the country organize to perform a requisite survey of homelessness in their areas. These surveys, conducted by local organizations and volunteer teams, are called Point In Time (PIT) counts and they are designed to capture the number of “…sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January.” Because unstably housed populations can’t be counted through regular census techniques (which typically require a home address) the PIT number represents the best estimate for an area’s homeless population in a given year.

In Seattle, these estimates have increased dramatically over the past couple of years, and in 2016 the Mayor declared homelessness to be a citywide crisis. It’s been almost a full year since the mayor’s pronouncement and the city’s response to the crisis has been mired in conflict. Results of Seattle’s upcoming PIT count will show the city exactly where it stands in relation to the startling 2016 numbers. Not only does this count represent the first official PIT survey of overall homelessness since the crisis was declared, it also marks a shift in community leadership surrounding the process, and important changes in the data collection process.

The One Night Count organization has coordinated the Seattle and King County PIT count for 37 years, but in 2017 they pass the torch to All Home, another local organization already working in the sphere of homelessness. This leadership transition, coupled with changes to the federal guidelines, will change the PIT process in key areas. All Home has released an outline of these changes on their website. New features include a “shift from a ‘known area’ count to a 100% canvass of every census tract in the county,” and “more comprehensive sample-based survey efforts including both shelter/service sites as well as non-service locations.” Such decisions mark an effort to broaden the net of information captured, giving a more accurate (and perhaps more urgent) picture of Seattle’s current homelessness crisis.

With All Home finishing preparations, the Seattle community, homeless and housed alike, waits for the PIT count to put a number to a crisis experienced by all.

Sources:

https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/hdx/guides/pit-hic/#general-pit-guides-and-tools

http://allhomekc.org/king-county-point-in-time-pit-count/

http://www.homelessinfo.org/what_we_do/one_night_count/

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/mayor-murrays-crucible-seattles-homelessness-crisis/

MCC Rate & Wage Changes: 2017

 

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Starting this January (2017) the Millionair club is raising wages for  its workers! The increase is designed to keep pace with Seattle’s new minimum wage requirements, which will roll out citywide over the course of the next three years. 

This is good news for the workers in our supportive employment program who are striving every day to lift themselves off the streets and out of poverty through work experience. 

With the citywide increase in wages, our “Hire-a-Worker” rates will also be slightly raised. Read on for the specifics: 2017 MCC Wage Increase

To learn more about Seattle’s schedule of minimum wage increases, click here.

Grateful for the Opportunity to “better himself”: Sam’s Story

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Sam in the MCC Computer Lab!

Thank you donors and supporters: you enable the Millionair Club Charity to run a supportive employment program with many services and one convenient location.  You help people who are homeless become job ready. People just like Sam…

Sam was homeless when he arrived at the Millionair Club Charity (MCC).  He had tried to find work through other agencies but didn’t have success, until he came to the MCC. What was different?

“The application process is easy. It’s organized, and when they send you out on a job, there’s a schedule,” points out Sam “and they work out a bus route for you that’s always perfect, so you can get to work.  They even give us a lunch to take to work.”

“I got a Food Handler’s card through the MCC, and it’s a blessing. I am able to go out and do the jobs at the stadium concession, and I am having a ball.  There are also lots of day jobs doing like, basic carpentry, furniture moving, which are excellent jobs and I appreciate the chance to do that.”

Three and a half months after enrolling in the MCC’s supportive employment program, Sam was offered a permanent job as a street ambassador with the Metropolitan Improvement District. He accepted it , but then discovered a construction apprentice program at the University of Washington: the PACE program.  If he was accepted, he would make about $23 an hour!

“Seattle is an expensive town. With all my bills, I need a healthy wage to be able to support myself. But the apprentice program makes you go through a boot camp to qualify.  You have to carry bricks, shovel rocks into wheelbarrows, off-load the rocks, lift plywood, and transfer piles of rebar.  Then you have to run a certain distance.

“It’s about responsibility. The PACE program does not want someone who wants to laze around.  They want people to go out for work, do the right thing, and earn a wage where you can provide for yourself. They want to make sure you’ll work hard and be ready for a job when you graduate.  I was accepted and will train for 11 weeks.”

But Sam had a program. He could not afford rent to live anywhere but the shelter where he was sleeping. Sam came back to the MCC to ask for one last piece of support: a place to live. And with Jobs Connect funding, the Millionair Club Charity was able to pay for Sam’s rent at MCC’s own Kasota housing building.

“All this would not be possible without the MCC giving me the opportunity to better myself. Through the MCC I have a place to stay, I can do my laundry for free, and my meals are provided at the place I stay.  I do believe this will help me be a success at school.”

“And I want to pass that on to anyone out there who needs help to work. The MCC is where it’s at for good clothing and work.  In fact, I haven’t heard of any organization out there that’s like them.  Everyone should come to the MCC for help because it’s #1.”

“I want to thank the MCC and the staff at the MCC for giving me the opportunity to make myself better. And none of this would be possible without the donors. I want to thank the donors, for giving me this opportunity. I really appreciate y’all.

“And when I do graduate I will come back to the MCC and volunteer myself. I want to help out and help others.”

You can help many more people like Sam, who want a “hand up, not a hand out,” by donating to the MCC’s supportive employment program today. Donations of any size are appreciated.  Thank you.

Finding a Foundation for Success: Jemeika

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THANK YOU DONORS AND SUPPORTERS:  With your help this year 182 men and women have obtained permanent or long term jobs through the MCC’s supportive employment program.  Did you know that for every homeless person who obtains permanent work taxpayers save up to $40,000 a year in service payments?  That’s a total of $7.28 MILLION DOLLARS !  

Meet one young lady who is “very excited” to be one of those people on the MCC’s permanent job list:  Jemeika.

Jemeika is starting a new permanent job with complete benefits – but it was a long road.   It started at Century Link stadium.

“I noticed a long line of people checking in to work at Century Link Stadium and asked ‘who is doing that?” It was the Millionair Club Charity.

“So I came to the MCC and enrolled in the employment program. The MCC staff treats you really fair – they don’t discriminate if you’re homeless.  They are such a good resource to lay your foundation for success.

“When you need help, it’s really hard when you have to go to so many places to get the resources you need. I needed a cell phone, Food Handler’s Card and prescription eye glasses, which was all here at the MCC – and they paid for it.

“So, then I started in day labor working the Century Link Stadium games. But what I really wanted was a stable job for me and my son. Then I heard about the Street Ambassador program at the Metropolitan Improvement District (MI.D.)  and thought, ‘I could do that’. It’s a decent job.

“If you know a homeless person, you should tell them to go get some help at the MCC. I see these people struggling and they don’t need to struggle.  I know how hard it is to keep pushing for what you need.  If they’re consistent in coming to the MCC, and open to different jobs, they won’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay their bills.

“And if you have a pay check, you can utilize it in several areas to overcome barriers. Like, having a record of your pay checks can get you into housing.

“I would like to tell the donors for this program that their money is going into a good place that is geared to helping people.

Jemeika is starting as a Street Ambassador at the M.I.D., but says she has ambitions to work hard and be promoted. “I’m excited,” she says with a smile.

THANK YOU SUPPORTERS – you contribute to a “jobs first” solution to homeless for men like Reggie

Today on “Giving Tuesday”, all of us a the Millionair Club Charity want to give thanks to our donors, volunteers, and community partners, who help our “jobs first” solution to homelessness stabilize and rebuild the lives of hundreds of men and women each year. The story of Reggie, below, is just one of the 854 people who received services through the MCC’s supportive employment program last year.  THANK YOU SUPPORTERS — without you, success stories like Reggie’s would not be possible.

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Reggie @ the MCC

Reggie became homeless after Hurricane Katrina in 2009.  Since that time, he and his family relocated from state to state, hoping that eventually they would find a place that provided a living and felt like home.

Unfortunately for Reggie, his travels never brought him to a place of stability. In April of 2016, he came to Seattle, with just a suitcase.  “When I came to Seattle, I had lost everything, literally everything.  I was living on the street and had no resources.  It was the first time I really, really needed help as an adult person.  And I kept thinking, what is it going to take to get me back on my feet?” 

Reggie found a place to sleep in a mission, so that solved that problem. But what Reggie really wanted to do, was find a job.  He was told to try the Millionair Club Charity.

“I didn’t have the clothes or shoes to work at a proper job. Miss Olivia and Miss Lily at the MCC helped me so much.  I mean, they didn’t know me from a can of beans, but they just helped me.  It’s not just a job to them – here it’s personal.  And there’s a whole team that shows up for me.”

With his work clothes and Food Handler’s card provided by the MCC, Reggie went to work at Century Link stadium. He tried different kinds of jobs — cleaning streets for the Metropolitan Improvement District, and light industrial work at iClick Industries — then found a permanent job as a kitchen manager at the Underground Tour office.  But there were still some things that were holding Reggie back from success.

“Living at the mission, I had to carry around my bags with me all day. I was so embarrassed to have to bring my bags to work.  But there were all these lockers lining the walls at the MCC.  I said, who are they for?  They said, they’re for workers like you. This doesn’t sound like a big thing, but considering the situation I was in, it was gigantic.”

Reggie also remembers that it was really hard to work six days a week while sleeping at the mission. The MCC’s employment program told Reggie he could move in to the rooms at the Kasota apartments, but Reggie worried that he didn’t have enough money saved to pay a deposit on the rent. Then he was told that the first month’s rent would be taken care of by the MCC.  “My room might be small.  I might be able to sit in the middle and touch both walls of my apartment with my hands outstretched.  But these are MY walls.  Being in my own room is like removing an elephant that was jumping on me every time I tried to get up.  I feel normal here.  I feel like a normal person.  When Angele gave me that key to my room, I was like WOW, these are my walls.”

“If you’re a homeless person, and able-bodied, I don’t know why you don’t get down here to the MCC. I can come in here and take a shower, wash clothes.  I can eat.  This place is like, the hand that pulled me up, and made sure that once I was standing, that I had everything I needed to stay up.  They got you.  They got you.”

 

 

A Time to Celebrate: Holiday Lunches at the Millionair Club Charity

A Time of Celebration:  Holiday Lunches.  November 23 & 24, 2016;                             December 23, 2016; 12:noon to 1:30 pm

 “The Thanksgiving and Christmas lunches are something special,” smiles Brent Hermann, who has coordinated the meals program at the Millionair Club Charity for over 15 years. “We have two lunches where we have a holiday meal with ‘all the trimmings’:  Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving.”

SONY DSC “Community Volunteers set the tables with tablecloths and decorations, and folks have a chance to sit down and be served turkey lunch, followed by pie,” continues Brent. “We want it to be a time of relaxation and rejuvenation over a hot delicious meal.”

 Thanksgiving morning kicks off when 80 volunteers from Full Life Ministry arrive, to package up thanksgiving lunches that are delivered to home-bound seniors.  Each meal is thoughtfully put together with a handmade card and placement from local school children.  The presentation includes a flower with every meal.”

SONY DSC Community Volunteers take the holiday packages to home-bound seniors, and sit with them, so they have company on the holiday.

The line starts forming outside the Millionair Club Charity building early for holiday lunch. Volunteers go outside and bring warm coffee.  They’re looking forward to a meal with “all the trimmings”:  turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, a roll, and a BIG piece of pie.

SONY DSC Over 800 holiday lunches will be served at the three holiday meals. Volunteers serve meals “restaurant style”, with our diners able to sit down, relax, and have dinner and pie brought to them.  It’s a joyous time for our staff, as many of our regular clients bring young children and friends to share the joys of the day.

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 The Meals Program at the Millionair Club Charity serves over 97,000 hot nutritious breakfasts and lunches, Monday through Friday, throughout the year. It is just one service of the supportive employment program at the Millionair Club Charity, that assists men and women who are homeless or have little or no resources, to get the services they need to become job ready and connect with employment opportunity. Services s include a shower, laundry, job training, licensing, work clothes, free prescription eye glasses and access to housing.

The Millionair Club Charity has been rebuilding lives through jobs and supportive services in its Belltown location since 1921. Find out more at millionairclub.org.