Can Community Action help everyone who comes in for housing assistance?
Community Action has services to assist those in need of housing however the need is greater than the capacity we have to assist. Take for example last year we assisted 406 families and individuals to obtain housing or prevented them from becoming homeless. However there were over 2,000 who came in needing housing services—unfortunately there were no housing options for them and we were not able to help them with their housing need. It breaks our hearts and more work needs to be done for sure! This is a community-wide issue and it will take an entire community to help solve.
What is Community Action doing to address the housing shortage?
In addition to our front-line services, Community Action also focuses on advocacy and is currently looking into the feasibility of affordable housing development.
Our advocacy efforts include hosting the first new candidates’ forum based on the most recent SCOG report on the housing shortage issue, providing an annual Olympia trip to talk about issues with our legislators, and the goal for many of our Lunch and Learn outreach meetings is to bring even more awareness to the housing shortage in Skagit County and the common barriers we see from our clients perspective.
The efforts for affordable housing development often start with community zoning. In coordination with our advocacy efforts, we are laying the ground work for moving forward into housing development, however it takes a lot of time, planning, and money. A recent success is Community Action helped launch the Home Trust of Skagit and is very supportive of Catholic housing and other organizations that provide supportive housing in Skagit County.
Does Community Action help everyone who comes in for other types of assistance?
Community Action does a lot but we can’t do it all. There is a shortage of housing and not enough living-wage jobs. It is an issue outside of our control. For those we can assist, it takes time and effort from the person seeking assistance as well as our staff to find solutions. Some solutions (to often complex situations) are outside our realm so we rely on other resources in the community to provide the expertise and support services.
Community Action provides assistance to help people in many ways including home heating assistance, food assistance (e.g. basic food, WIC), legal help (e.g. family law, landlord/tenant), critical needs (this resource varies depending on type of need, if person is engaged in services, and available funds), and additional support services to our Veterans. We also have a 10-unit Family Development Shelter that helps keep families together while trying to find affordable housing.
Community Action also provides employment support services (e.g. job seeking, placement, and coaching), financial education, computer lab, and renters’ education in an effort to help people get (better) jobs to keep people housed.
How does a new services center meet the needs of the homeless and others who are struggling to make ends meet?
Community Action works hard to provide the right kind of services for those in need—including our homeless community members. Every single day we see how the housing shortage in Skagit County is negatively impacting this community and we’re working tirelessly to address the issues our community is facing as best we can.
Community Action’s goal is to provide the most useful and life-changing “front door” possible. Unfortunately, our “front door” at our main services center is insufficient and overcrowded due to the increase in request for services and subsequent increase in staff to accommodate.
Community Action is dedicated to developing a more ideal facility to best serve our community and has located an existing building that meets not only the current needs but also allows a space to ‘grow into’ over the next 20 years.
The new Services Center will provide appropriate space to:
Can Community Action just lease more space?
Leasing office space is extraordinarily expensive – roughly $12 a square foot (that’s $388,000 a year)! To keep operations low, we are better stewards of our money if we do an initial campaign to purchase the building and use our precious dollars to serve our community.