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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 24, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Homelessness and poverty: Crisis clinic; low-income housing; public assistance

Corrected version

Crisis Clinic assists families in dire need

The article “King County’s homeless families await help, as backlog grows,” [Local News, Jan. 21] highlights the growing crisis in family homelessness, which government and nonprofits organizations are working hard to eliminate.

By calling 2-1-1, Crisis Clinic is able to connect people to a wide array of human services, including the Family Housing Connections program. King County 2-1-1 receives nearly 105,000 calls a year. We talk with families about their options, ways to keep their children safe, and make referrals to the agencies best able to help them.

We clarify for families that being on a waitlist does not mean that housing is readily available. In 2013, 16,000 people who were homeless called 2-1-1, compared to 12,700 in 2012, so we know that homelessness in growing. It will require the political will of everyone to ensure that every person has a place to call home.

People who are concerned about homelessness should contact their state and federal elected officials to ask that homeless housing programs be fully funded. A full list of advocacy activities is available at www.cehkc.org

Kathleen Southwick, executive director Crisis Clinic, Seattle

Require more low-income housing

I just read “King County’s homeless families await help, as backlog grows” and “Gates says poor countries not doomed to stay poor” [Nation & World, Jan. 22]. I was appalled to read that we have families with infants living in a tent city. Finding housing for them is an emergency.

When we have families with infants, toddlers and small children living in tents in homeless encampments, something is very wrong with our society. We are not a poor country, but some families, due to various circumstances, are not much better off than the poor in Third World countries.

Why can’t we provide shelter for the homeless, especially families? What would the cost per taxpayer be to provide safe, adequate housing for all those in need?

Each new apartment building and condo that is built puts a lot of demands on city services. For this extra cost in services, why don’t we require a larger percentage of units be reserved for the poor? Mixed-income units are much better than housing that is all low or no income. We also need to renovate single room occupancies for single homeless people.

Proper shelter, food and medical care should be a right for everyone. Less demand would be put on health-care services and people regain self respect. Not all will be able to move on to become contributing members of our society but most families will.

Rita Moore, Mercer Island

Don’t cut public assistance programs

Thank you for your recent coverage of events commemorating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. [“Honor Martin Luther King by ending county’s disparities,” Opinion, Jan. 19].

In the last years of his life, King focused on economic justice as well as racial equality. However, 45 years later, 1 in 4 children is at risk of going to bed hungry. America’s poor bear a disproportionate burden left by the economic downturn. According to the National Poverty Center, in 2011 extreme poverty in the U.S. (households living on less than $2 a day) was double the level in 1996 level at 1.5 million households, including 2.8 million children. Now, school nutrition programs have been cut. This compromises children’s health, their ability to learn and grow — and their futures.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) lifted 3.9 million people out of poverty in 2011. Yet Congress threatens to drastically cut SNAP benefits by an average of $90 per month for 850,000 households. Poor children deserve an equal start in life.

Any caring citizen could honor the memory of King by contacting their national representatives. Urge them to talk to U.S. House and Senate leaders, voicing opposition to the proposed $8.6 million cuts to SNAP in the farm bill.

Rich Kalman, Olympia

Information in this article, originally published Jan. 24, 2013, was corrected Jan. 27, 2013. A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed the letter “Don’t cut public assistance programs” to Rita Moore, Olympia.

Comments | More in Poverty | Topics: homelessness, Kathleen Southwick, Rita Moore

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