The issue is in our face almost every hour of every day. What are we going to do to end homelessness? We’ve been asking this question for 20-plus years. The only difference is that more people are asking the question and, of course, more people are homeless.
The problem is so multi-layered that prioritizing it is nearly impossible. We say things like, let’s first move them off the streets into some safe, temporary housing, whether it be tiny homes, community homes, church basements, or others. We’ll need to provide case-management after the trauma of being on the streets. This might include mental-health counseling and/or drug and alcohol treatment.
Then hopefully, after they are stabilized, we can move them into permanent housing. This housing needs to be affordable as well as dedicated to racial equality for all its tenants. We’ll need to continue to provide case management. and perhaps job training for sustainability. And until clients acquire full-time jobs, they’ll need to depend on agencies like UCEF to help pay their rent, utilities and deposit, as well as bus tickets and hygiene items.
In all cases, we’ll need lots and lots of money. To be honest, it’s starting to sound a lot like all the diet doctors who guaranteed I’d lose weight if I paid them X number of dollars. Surely by now we all know that money does not solve anything. Real change requires a systemic change in behavior. Who needs to change? All of us!
We are now just starting to see clients who were moved off the street into rapid housing and cannot afford to stay there. The fact that they are off the street looks great for our city’s statistics and the housing provider who got them the apartment. Unfortunately, UCEF alone cannot afford to pay their rent. So, it’s just a matter of time before they are evicted and back on the street.
Harold was a man who was moved from the shelters into a downtown Seattle apartment costing $975 a month. He came to us because he couldn’t afford to live there. I asked why the agency put him there if he couldn’t afford it. He said he had a job at the time but quit once he’d moved because he hated the job. He had taken that anyway only so he could get out of the shelter.
The agency paid the first two months of Harold’s rent, and he was looking for work when he came to us. We agreed to help. He was back in a two weeks to say he’d found another job but it didn’t pay enough. He was tired and was going to go back home to Ohio. What everyone visualized as a win/win ended up being a lose/lose.
We live in an addictive society that constantly urges us to make quick fixes in nearly every facet of life. However, we all know there are no quick fixes. Homelessness is multi-layered. Each layer requires its own attention.
We need more assistance with drug and alcohol rehab. We need more beds and care for folks experiencing mental-health problems. We need more housing. We need racial equality. We need ongoing case management.
We need, we need, we need. Let’s talk about what one facet of the problem we think we can try to fix. Let’s stop talking like any one of us has all the answers. Working together, we can and do make a difference – one family at a time.
-- Jo Gustafson, executive director
UCEF Needs Volunteer Help
Since 1986 the mission of the United Churches Emergency Fund has been to prevent homelessness. Through compassionate listening, focused referrals and some financial assistance for rent, utilities and move-in costs, UCEF has been doing just that.
UCEF needs your help. There are several vacancies on its board of directors. We need members who can help to visualize UCEF’s future. The board meets every other month from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Our next meeting will be on September 20.
UCEF also needs someone skilled in building and developing its web page. Most of that work can be done from home.
In addition, UCEF is looking for a few people who would like one-on-one experience working with those in need. Volunteers usually work just two mornings a month, though it could be more. The shifts are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:30 to12:15.
If you’re interested, please contact Jo Gustafson, executive director, at email@example.com
Good Music, a Good Cause – and a New Location
The Rain City Symphony is a non-profit orchestra dedicated to nurturing the appreciation of music. We at UCEF are grateful for their support over the past several years: All proceeds from the symphony’s annual pre-Christmas concert go to benefit UCEF.
This year’s concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Seattle Mennonite Church (SMC), 3120 NE 125th St. in Lake City. This will be a new venue for this annual event, and we at UCEF are grateful to SMC for making their building available.
The Rain City Symphony provides amateur musicians with orchestral experience in a supportive atmosphere. Dr. Teresa Metzger Howe is the conductor. For more information, see www.raincitysymphony.org. We hope you will put this musical event on your calendar. We consider it “good music for a good cause.”
The Seattle Mennonite Church offers many programs to meet homelessness and other social needs in Northeast Seattle – for example, daily drop-in hours when people can use laundry facilities, showers and hygiene facilities, kitchen, internet and phone service; resource referral, food closet, nursing care, personal storage, blankets and clothes. Seattle University nursing students have volunteered with the church for years as a learning environment.
Facebook helps UCEF help our clients
You can help UCEF raise money for families in need by creating a birthday fundraiser on Facebook and naming “University Churches Emergency Fund” as your non-profit. Facebook will automatically donate $5, and when you post this to your friends, our chances of raising money to help people stay in their homes is greatly increased.
Be sure to use the word “University” instead of “United” when you deal with Facebook. Officially, for federal tax purposes, we are “University Churches Emergency Fund, dba (doing business as) United Churches Emergency Fund and UCEF.” Thank you for your help.
United Churches Emergency Fund,
4515 16th Ave. NE, Seattle WA 98115.
UCEF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Your donation is tax-deductible. Please consider an online donation through our website. Thank you.
UCEF Board of Directors: Jan Orlando and Lynn Williams, co-chairs; Randall Lucas, treasurer; Jessica Escott, Holly Harvey.
Executive Director: Jo Gustafson. Bookkeeper: Sue Takano. Consultant: Melissa Morrell.
Office Volunteers: Fred Lackmann, Louise McAllister, Melissa Morrell, Greg Turner.
We believe everyone deserves a home. UCEF helps prevent homelessness by providing rent and utility help to people in the 98103, 98105, 98115 and 98125 zip codes. We also offer compassionate listening and referrals to other agencies that may help. In addition, we provide bus tickets, hygiene items, snack lunches and other items to homeless people and others in need.
August 2018 Newsletter
United Churches Emergency Fund
UCEF Needs Postage Stamps
The UCEF office uses a lot of postage stamps – to send checks to utility companies and landlords, to send thank-you letters to our donors, to pay our own bills and for other correspondence. If you would like to help reduce our office expenses, we would appreciate gifts of ordinary “Forever” stamps – pads, sheets or rolls. Thanks for your help.