YMCA program could be a piece to Seattle’s homeless puzzle

Feb 12, 2017, 9:55 AM | Updated: 10:18 am

homeless camps, YMCA, homelessness crisis, homelessness, Bellevue stabbing...

According to the Seattle Times, Seattle's homelessness crisis is one of the worst in the country. (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

As the City of Seattle and King County continue to find ways to meet the needs of the growing homeless population, the YMCA has sat on the sidelines with at least a partial answer.

Related: Seattle mayor announces interim action plan on homelessness

After hearing about a forum at Town Hall Seattle regarding the city’s next steps to tackle homelessness, which includes a specialized outreach team, two YMCA representatives reached out to KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross to tell him about another option.

The Host Home Program was created in response to the growing number of young, homeless adults in the country. Brooke Knight and Nicole Guiberteaux told Seattle’s Morning News that so far, it’s been successful in cities such as Tacoma.

The program focuses on young people who are about to be or recently have become, homeless. Many young homeless people, according to Knight and Guiberteaux, have just aged out of foster care or were forced out of their homes. Up to 40 percent of them identify as LGBTQ, they said.

The YMCA program allows homeowners to host someone experiencing homelessness for six months. It’s a way to help people get back on their feet. Though hosts are not paid, they can receive a $300 stipend from the YMCA.

Because it isn’t a rental program, the YMCA hasn’t run into many problems.

“This is people opening up their homes to someone.”

The hope is that after months living in a host home, those who would be homeless have enough time to get on their feet.

And Knight and Guiberteaux disagree that nobody is willing to accept a young homeless person into their home.

However, the two admit it is just “one piece of a larger puzzle.”

Indeed. In Seattle, of the 1,000 homeless individuals surveyed, about 90 percent said they would prefer to stay in a shelter. The problem is, there aren’t enough spaces. The city is opening up what it’s calling a “Navigation Center” to help with that.

If more people bought into the YMCA’s program, that too could help open shelter spaces for those in need.

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Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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YMCA program could be a piece to Seattle’s homeless puzzle