Editor’s note: This is part one in a monthlong series on Eastside homelessness.
Just as tackling homelessness means more than just giving people a place to stay for the night, the Friends of Youth’s (FOY) location in Redmond offers more than just a shelter.
In addition to The Landing — an overnight shelter for young adults — FOY at the Together Center in downtown Redmond offers drop-in services during the day.
Derek Wentorf, director of homeless youth services at FOY, said those services include case management and educational services such as GED assistance. Clients can also receive mental-health or substance-use services.
While The Landing serves young adults ages 18-24, Wentorf said their drop-in services are targeted to include teens aged 16 and 17, depending on the program.
“It really varies,” he said.
FOY has been at the Together Center since the multi-tenant nonprofit center opened but Wentorf said the Redmond location used to be limited to administration. That changed about four years ago when the food bank, which was run by Hopelink, moved to a new location and FOY was able to take over the space, allowing the organization to expand its services.
In those four years, Wentorf said things have been going well.
Unfortunately, he said, the demand for their services are high and that is consistent with reports from King County that state that there are about 800 young people who are currently homeless in the county.
“We feel that from our services,” he said, adding that FOY is steadily busy.
That steadiness can be seen in their day services as well as overnight when the center turns into The Landing.
The shelter has the capacity for 20 guests and Wentorf said in the winter months, they have seen an average of 18-19 people each night. About a quarter of the time, he said, they have had more than 20 people show up and as a result they have had to have a “lotto,” or a random drawing to determine who can stay overnight.
For those who are “lotto-ed out” one night, Wentorf they are guaranteed a spot at the shelter the next day. Other ways guests are guaranteed a spot for the night include if it is their birthday, if they are working in a program or are working and call ahead of time to ask Landing staff to reserve a spot for them. Guests can also take on leadership roles at The Landing.
If there is not a bed available for a young person, Wentorf said they will have a conversation with the individual, make sure they have enough food and give them a bus pass. They will also offer to call around to other shelters in the area if that is what they would like, although sometimes at the end of a long night, he said, the young person may not be interested in taking the bus all the way to Seattle or another city.
The Landing is located at 16225 N.E. 87th St., Suite 1A. For information, call (425) 449-3868 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City of Redmond has also taken an active role in serving those who are homeless or on the verge of being homeless.
Last summer, the city hired Kent Hay, an outreach worker who works with all entities of the city — from law enforcement and the fire department, to planning and parks.
Hay’s position was initially created based on a recommendation from the city’s homelessness task force and has since become a permanent position and was included in the city’s budget.
Since he started, Hay has partnered with the Redmond Library and holds drop-in hours at the library from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Tuesdays. During these times, people can meet with him to work on plans on how to not become homeless or to get out of homelessness.
In addition, he has worked to start the Next Step Resource Center, which is also at the library from 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. The resource center brings together various organizations and agencies that serve people who are homeless or may be on the verge of becoming homeless.
Hay said those organizations include Job Corps, Hopelink, the YWCA, Worksource and Congregations for the Homeless. Representatives from Sound Mental Health and Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT) also have representatives who come to the resource center.
Hay said having all of these resources located in one central hub is helpful for those who may not be able to make it out to other cities due to barriers such as a lack of transportation.
“It makes it easier for people,” he said.
Since the resource center started up in September 2016, and since he started his drop-in hours, Hay said he has seen and worked with people of all demographics — from young people coming in to connect with Job Corps, to seniors living on a fixed income in need of assistance.
Outside of his work in the library, Hay does outreach work with the Redmond police’s neighborhood resource officers, meeting with people where they are staying overnight. He is also working with LWIT’s automotive program to help people learn about how to fix their cars as people who are struggling may rely heavily on their vehicles.
Hay said it has been great to work with all the different agencies involved in the resource center in addition to local faith organizations. He is also appreciative of the library’s part in everything.
“The library’s been so generous,” Hay said.
He said these partnerships are important because he and the city can’t do everything themselves.
Brooke Buckingham, human services planner for the city, agreed.
She said they recognize that Redmond is just part of the system to tackle homelessness and noted King County — and its All Home initiative — as the path for federal funding. In addition, Buckingham said the city also recognized its need to be at the table during discussions about homelessness so that Redmond’s needs are addressed.