The Issue: Homeless Population in Washington State
As of this January, there were 20,336 people living in homelessness in Washington State and 2,225 people who labeled themselves as chronically homeless, according to data from the Washington State Point in Time Count of Homeless Persons. Many of these people were families with children, veterans, or victims of domestic violence, and 5,484 were sleeping without shelter of any kind.
The Campaign: Furnishing Supplies for Outreach Events
If 50 people donate $10, then Homes First! can fund a 6-foot folding table, a pop-up tent, and a tabletop display board for community-outreach events, along with marketing materials to distribute, thanks to matching donations from Generations Credit Union of Olympia. Donations will be matched up to $500. All additional donations raised will go toward more marketing materials.
In the 22 years since its inception, Homes First! has help more than 2,500 Thurston County residents find affordable housing so that they can continue to support themselves by purchasing food, medical care, and utilities. The organization will use the supplies and materials from this campaign to connect with potential donors at charity drives and outreach events, expanding its ability to help individuals and families find homes.
All donations will be matched up to a $500 total by Generations Credit Union of Olympia.
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In 1987, the Associated Ministries Day of Awareness sponsored a forum called Housing the Homeless: Community Action Day. Local activists, housing providers, and government officials discussed the problem of limited housing opportunities for residents experiencing homelessness. Many of them continued to brainstorm solutions long after the forum, most of which fell outside realm of the current social safety nets. Then, in 1990, a group of these participants banded together and founded Homes First! as a legal entity that could actively create housing opportunities for people with low incomes.
Homes First! acquires and remodels homes, apartments, and duplexes, collaborates with local organizations, and works with individuals to find them affordable places to live. It currently rents 42 units to individuals and families, whose rent payments go to fund maintenance, staff oversight, and future housing projects. A three-person team conducts operations at Homes First!, ensuring that it maintains an active link to the county. Homes First! also works with other nonprofits to find homes for people with disabilities or addiction issues, and to advocate for homes for people experiencing homelessness.