Executive Letter: MCC Director Talks 2016

Dear MCC Supporters,

There were three things I loved to point out to supporters last year: outreach, motivation, and a good hot shower. Yes, thanks to people like you, the Millionair Club Charity saw significant growth in these three areas of our Employment Program and that growth is creating more success stories in the battle to combat homelessness.

lynda-in-front-of-jc-vanAs you might already know, for the past 95 years many folks who wanted to enroll in the MCC’s supportive employment program heard about if from a friend and then came to our building. In 2016, the ability to “bring” the MCC’s message directly to people living on the streets was made possible by a partnership with the United Way of King County, Downtown Seattle Association, and the City of Seattle. The new outreach program is called Jobs Connect.

We purchased a van that could drive around the city to homeless encampments and wherever people were living unsheltered. As you can imagine, folks living outside, who are cold, hungry, and living with little means, can find it impossible to believe that they are employable. The Jobs Connect program is designed exactly for these unsheltered men and women! Our outreach coordinator tells them about the services available for them at the MCC, and then whisks them back to headquarters for a hot meal and a shower. The result? A step toward being job ready. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray even came in-person to the MCC to recognize the project’s significance in the city’s homeless problem; and since last April, over 2,000 people received outreach and over 100 found a permanent job through the program.

On a regional and national stage, you will be very glad to hear that the MCC was chosen by the Social Innovation Fund to be one of twenty-two nonprofit organizations to join the man-washing-dishes-cropped-2REDF Portfolio. The organizations in this portfolio are selected due to the success of their programs for people with barriers to employment. The goal is to provide access to funding and research that will make good programs even better. At the MCC, we are able to use REDF funds to create a new set of employment “motivations” that should result in our clients getting higher wage jobs to sustain them throughout their life. You will hear more about the results of this “STEP” program later in the year.

counter-sinks-laundry-glimpseAnd last but not least, that “good hot shower.” All of you realize the importance of being ability to shower and wash your clothes to get ready for work. But you may not know that in a city that has almost 4,000 unsheltered people, and 6,000 more living in shelters, there are only 7 shower and laundry facilities in the city limits. So with, the help of many donors – especially the Celebrity Waiters Luncheon group – the MCC raised the money to renovate and expand our existing hygiene center and increase its capacity. We opened it to the public last September and since then, new center has doubled the number of people shower and wash their clothes for work every day.

As you know, these three items are just a few of the many services available to folks who are trying to become job ready, connect to work, find a permanent job, and access affordable housing. Remember: it’s your faithful support of the Millionair Club Charity that is helping MORE people every year to escape one of the thorniest problems facing our region – homelessness and poverty.

Sincerely,

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Jim Miller, Executive Director

On Their Own Two Feet: New Clinic Comes to MCC

DID YOU KNOW? Up to 45% of homeless men wear ill-fitting shoes, and 75% of unsheltered men and women are on their feet for at least 5 hours a day!

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Last night, the Millionair Club Charity hosted its very first foot care clinic. The event took place at our Belltown program center were we hit the ground running with an incredible team of volunteers from the Seattle University Nursing program, in partnership  with the Seattle University Executive Leadership Program, and Redeeming Soles. Services and gear provided during the clinic included new socks, new shoes, foot hygiene, and a foot exam.

By the end of the evening, 20 members of the MCC’s Supportive Employment Program had received an individual foot scrub and brief exam. The room was all smiles as our MCC clients enjoyed their foot baths, and afterward, each worker picked out a brand new pair of shoes, with the option of choosing tennis shoes, non-slip black shoes, or work boots.

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One man had hitch-hiked in size 12 shoes from Maine to Seattle. No small feat, considering his true size was 14 wide! As soon as he got his size 14 wide shoes he threw away his old pair with a sigh of relief. He is currently training with Metropolitan Improvement District to become a Street Ambassador (part of the MCC Job’s Connect Program).

We think the Foot Care Clinic is a great way to become job ready. Having proper footwear is a vital foundation for safety on the job. Thanks so much to the donors and volunteers who made this happen! The MCC hopes to make the Foot Care Clinic a monthly event.

ABOUT THE ISSUE: Foot health and the homeless

Foot pain is significantly more common among homeless individuals. For the unsheltered, infections related to poor hygiene are common, but even more common, are problems related to repetitive stress the most common foot concern for people who are unsheltered or experiencing homelessness. Simply put, people without housing walk a lot. According to one study, 74% of respondents stated they were on their feet 5 hours or more each day, walking a median of 5 miles. This daily foot-stress is compounded by the fact that many homeless individuals have ill-fitting shoes. Foot stress can also be worsened by preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, which are prevalent among homeless populations. Sources and More Info.

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Count in a Crisis: Seattle Surveys Homeless and Unsheltered

Quick Take— Every January King County undertakes 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 also being conducted under new leadership, aiming to capture an even broader and more accurate picture of the crisis than ever before.

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Next Friday 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 12 months since the mayor’s pronouncement and the city’s response to the crisis has been mired in conflict. The results of Seattle’s upcoming PIT count will show this 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, bringing important changes to 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 alter 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 base of information collected to capture a more accurate (and perhaps more urgent) picture of Seattle’s current homelessness crisis. Simply put: these numbers could be the largest yet.

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

Read More

About PIT Counts

All Home Website

The One Night Count

Seattle Homelessness Crisis