City of Redmond brings Hay aboard to help the homeless

Kent Hay believes that if people are going to pull themselves out of bad situations to be productive members of their communities, there needs to be alternatives and options in place to help them do so.

Kent Hay believes that if people are going to pull themselves out of bad situations to be productive members of their communities, there needs to be alternatives and options in place to help them do so.

This was the line of thinking he took while working at the Seattle Municipal Court as a probation counselor. While there, he created the court resource center, a one-stop shop of agencies that is available to anyone and everyone who comes to the court. The center offers services from organizations ranging from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to Sound Mental Health to the Seattle Public Library.

Hay has taken this concept and brought it to the City of Redmond as the new homeless outreach specialist.


Since he started the job on July 11, Hay has been working on creating a resource center to serve the homeless population. The center will be located at the Redmond Library, 15990 N.E. 85th St., and open to the public, with agencies and services focused on helping people out of homelessness and into housing.

“It’s going to be a great partnership with a whole bunch of agencies,” Hay said.

So far, the agencies he has contacted to partner and collaborate with include Friends of Youth, Congregations for the Homeless, the YWCA, the DSHS, Hopelink and the BelRed Family Resource Center. In addition to needing help in finding housing, people who are homeless may also need help with chemical dependency, mental health issues, job searches and more. Because of this, Hay has also reached out to organizations such as Job Corps in Seattle to be part of the resource center.

Hay said he is also meeting with the Together Center in downtown Redmond, the multi-tenant campus that offers a number of human services, to make sure they do not double up on what is being offered at the library.

While offering alternatives to homelessness is vital, Hay also stressed the importance of having services and resources in one place. He said some people may have mental health issues, no means of transportation or not enough money to catch the bus. So getting from one point to another — which can sometimes mean traveling from one city to another — can be very difficult. By having multiple services available in one location, Hay said it can help people not feel so frustrated as they will be able to do more than one thing at one time. And when people are not as frustrated, they can become more hopeful and more confident, he said.

The resource center is scheduled to open Sept. 12 and Hay said the current plan will be for it to be open from 1-3 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. He added that over time, the center’s hours may change. As the opening date approaches, more information will become available on the City of Redmond’s and Redmond Library’s websites.


Although the center has not opened yet, Hay has already been making his presence known at the Redmond Library. He currently holds drop-in hours there from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Tuesdays.

A lot of Hay’s work is at the library because he described libraries as “the hub of everything.” He said the library can be a more comfortable environment for some people than City Hall, where he works the rest of the week.

“It’s scary walking into City Hall,” he said.

In addition to his work at the library, Hay has also been going out into the Redmond community and engaging with the local homeless population as well as those who may be on the verge of becoming homeless. He goes out with Redmond police officers in the early morning on Mondays and Tuesdays, going into area parks and woods, downtown and more, checking out camps.

Hay works closely with the police, saying they are one of the reasons he is here in Redmond — his job was created as a result of the city’s homeless task force. He said when they do outreach work in the field, the officers are in plain clothes. This is to make it clear that the police are not there to arrest anyone; they are with him for his safety as he goes out to see who may need help and let them know about the services available.

Through this outreach work, Hay said he learned that homeless people who have come to Redmond have done so because it is safe — not necessarily to receive services because they are not always aware of them.

As a result of this field work, Hay said he has seen some of those people come in to see him. He added that he has been working with people of all backgrounds: families, single parents, youths and seniors and people of all genders, races and ethnicities.


In addition to his time at the Seattle Municipal Court, Hay has had an extensive background in social services and criminal justice.

Born and raised in San Bernardino, Calif., he has worked as a case manager and mental health counselor for various agencies and organizations here in the Puget Sound, as well as with Child Protective Services in California. Hay said his background has taught him to know how to deal with people who are struggling and help them be productive.

Working and talking with people was not in Hay’s initial career plans as he originally wanted to work in computers. But he soon learned social services was what he was good at.

And while he may have found his calling, there was a time when he questioned his line of work.

It was around Christmas time in 2013 and Hay, who was at his job as a probation counselor in Seattle at the time, had gone home to San Bernardino for the holidays.

“I got shot,” he said.

It was New Year’s Eve and while he was out, Hay was shot in the face. It took him about two months to recover and he returned to work in March 2014.

Hay said this changed his outlook. For a while, he did not want to help anymore but once he went back to work, he realized that not all people are bad. Hay said he came to understand that just because something bad happened to him, he couldn’t blame a whole group of people, adding that he still doesn’t know who shot him.

Through his experience, Hay said he realized that so many people want to get out of the situation they are in and not go back to the way things were.

“There’s a lot of people who want help,” he said, adding that people just want to be treated like humans with respect and dignity.

When he realized this, Hay realized that was why he does this job.

“This is what we’re really about,” he said.