A small group discusses how domestic violence can lead women to homelessness. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

A small group discusses how domestic violence can lead women to homelessness. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Eastside groups discuss homelessness and affordable housing at community events

Five area service providers recently hosted a joint event to educate community members about the impacts of homelessness.

Timed with King County’s Affordable Housing Week, Bellevue was home to multiple community events last week to inform residents on the topic of homelessness and affordable housing in the region.

Five King County housing and service providers hosted “The Difference a Home Makes” to educate attendees about the impacts of homelessness and the work required to provide more housing in the county.

The Sophia Way, Attain Housing, Congregations for the Homeless, Imagine Housing and LifeWire put on a joint event at First Congregational Church in Bellevue. The event included a presentation on the current state of housing and homelessness in the county.

Linda Benson, director of community development for The Sophia Way, led the presentation and discussed three major myths regarding homelessness that the five organizations have found to be prevalent in their areas of work.

“From a systemic perspective, the only way we are going to be able to get ourselves out of this mess is if we create the awareness and the will to create the resources to develop enough affordable housing for everyone, which is a lot,” she said. “The key here is to shift people’s perceptions of the blame from those experiencing homelessness to the underlying systems that are creating the conditions that people literally cannot survive unless we do something pretty dramatic.”

Benson broke down three myths.

The first is that people who are homeless are lazy and don’t want jobs. She said that many people try very hard to hold on to their jobs, but surviving while homeless can be a full-time job in itself. She also said that more than 40 percent of homeless people in the area float between part-time and full-time work, but that isn’t enough to afford any housing in an area like Bellevue.

The second myth Benson discussed was that homelessness is a choice, which is only true in cases of domestic violence when choosing homelessness is the only safe choice to make.

The third myth, she explained, was that people are homeless due to their own mistakes or failings. Benson said the ultimate responsibility for homelessness rests at the systemic level, particularly in the area of affordable housing.

After Benson’s presentation, attendees were broken up into smaller groups to hear the personal stories of homelessness told by people who have been helped by the organizations’ services. Clients and their case managers spoke about the circumstances that forced these individuals into homelessness and the struggles they faced trying to survive.

One man spoke to the groups about bringing his family to the Mary’s Place homeless shelter for nine months before being able to work with Attain Housing to find an affordable housing solution. Another person spoke about how The Sophia Way women’s shelter helped her get off of the streets and began helping her find housing.

King County Council member Claudia Balducci, who also attended the event, said opportunities to hear from the people who have had to contend without having a home are very valuable to people who have never had to deal with it themselves. She also talked about efforts to address this issue being pursued on a county level through two initiatives.

“There’s the Regional Affordable Housing Task Force effort that I co-chair that has got Seattle, King County, Bellevue, and other cities throughout King County participating, that’s a long range, what are we going to do about the cost of housing,” Balducci said. “Then there is the One Table effort, convened by the city of Seattle, Auburn and King County, their laser focus is on homelessness and helping people get off the streets.”

Benson said the feedback and questions they received from the event will be discussed among the organizations and questions received from attendees will be answered by the representatives from the various sponsor organizations as well.

Earlier in the week, the community group Clarity Bellevue also hosted an event in Bellevue on homelessness. Tzachi Litov, a representative of the group, said they decided to hold their meeting to educate to provide additional context regarding Bellevue’s goal of establishing a homeless shelter in the city. Litov said they wanted to have a forum to share unbiased information and educate Bellevue residents on many aspects of homeless shelters.

The group invited several speakers for a live discussion on the topic of homeless shelters. The panel featured executive director of Downtown Emergency Service Center Daniel Malone, executive director of New Horizons in Seattle Rob Stewart, board chair of Northwest Urban Ministries Deryl Davis-Bell and founder of Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill Eleanor Owen.

Clarity Bellevue has the full recording of their panel discussion uploaded to Facebook and YouTube and can be found on the official Clarity Bellevue Facebook page.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

James, left, speaks about his time living in homelessness with his case manager Greg McLeod from Attain Housing. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

James, left, speaks about his time living in homelessness with his case manager Greg McLeod from Attain Housing. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

More in News

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

Chris Fagan trekking across Antarctica in 2014. Contributed by Chris Fagan
South Pole or Bust

The story of a North Bend couple who trekked across Antarctica.

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget

King County Council on Nov. 17 passed a $12.59 billion biennial budget… Continue reading

pexels
EvergreenHealth receives stroke care certification

The hospital system was able to demonstrate quality care and an advanced stroke program

State Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) authored the letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. Mullet represents the 5th Legislative District. File photo
Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining

They want to try to scaling back on occupancy before forcing an end to inside service.

Tim Eyman get in some last minute campaigning for I-976 in downtown Bellevue on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2019. File photo
Eyman fights allegation he repeatedly broke campaign laws

In a lawsuit, the state accuses the prolific initiative promoter of getting kickbacks.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant. File photo
State halts indoor service at bars, restaurants, home guests

Amid soaring new coronavirus cases and an overburdened health care system, the state’s clamping down.

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

A rendering of the entrance of the upcoming southeast Redmond Light Rail stop. Courtesy Photo/Sound Transit
Construction work increasing around Redmond light rail extension

Residents can expect upcoming tree removal, structure demolition, utility relocation along State Route 520

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.

The closed Redmond Senior Center on Oct. 13. Community members leave ribbons in the heart to honor the memories of the to-be-demolished center. Haley Ausbun/staff photo.
Demolition of Redmond Senior Center underway this month

The city council has an upcoming vote on the size and cost of the future senior center