CITY LIFE Photo by Ryan Lowry

Published on April 20th, 2015 | by Rachel Ervin

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Homeless in Tacoma, part one: waiting in line

On an early Wednesday morning, I walk onto the campus of the new Nativity House location on South Yakima. It is cold and drizzling; crowds of people huddle beneath a tarp outside of the hospitality kitchen, and a line stretches around the opposite building waiting for the food bank to open. Public school is in session – it’s well past 9 am – but still I see a boy who looks to be around ten years old clutching a woman’s hand in line. He isn’t allowed to venture into the Nativity House because it is an adult only space, and it becomes apparent to me why when I walk through the doors.

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Nativity House

There are a lot of people in here. The kitchen can serve up to 300 and it seems close to capacity. Everyone sits at long tables and gather in groups. Within the first hour, two fights break out. It’s crowded, stuffy, and the smell is overwhelming at first. There seems to be very little security, perhaps one officer for the large room.

I am here to help survey adults for the annual Point in Time count – a tool used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to assess how many people are sleeping on the streets on one night during the year.

It’s a snapshot, and doesn’t capture the hundreds or perhaps thousands of others that fall outside of what HUD considers homelessness: unstable housing situations such as friends’ couches, overcrowded apartments, or abandoned buildings. Last year, the count identified over 1,400 people in Pierce County alone as homeless; 800 of those being single adults and the rest consisting of adults with children.

I sit at a table with another volunteer and a box of essentials behind us. We tape a sign to the wall that says, ‘Point In Time.’ The people milling about look skeptical but are drawn to the box’s contents: hats, gloves, shampoo. The most popular item is a reusable bag. The catch, of course, is that they have to take the survey in order to pick an item. It seems a little cruel to me, but I also know that it’s probably the quickest way to get a response. I ask people if they want to fill out the survey on their own or if they need help. Most need help.

Complete strangers sit down with me and answer questions about their age, sexual preference, if they receive government assistance, whether they have AIDS or substance abuse issues. It is intimate and sometimes uncomfortable. One man becomes angry with me, one man laughs with me the entire time, one woman cries after each question. After two hours the two of us have filled out over 50 forms with people who are experiencing homelessness.

“Let me take a look at that shampoo,” a man says to me, and laughs as he rubs a hand over his bald head. He is carrying a drawing pad and color pencils—I later learn that the Nativity House is the first and only place in Tacoma to provide an art therapy room for its guests. He is wearing a wool turtleneck sweater and wire-rimmed glasses.

“Where was the last place you had stable housing?” I ask him.

“Victorville, California, in 1996.”

“I grew up in Barstow,” I tell him, and he says he’s sorry. We both laugh and I think there has to be something better for this person. He tells me he has schizophrenia, and my heart breaks.

I leave angry, sad, and overwhelmed. Not angry about the conditions at the Nativity House – the newest and most comprehensive daytime shelter, kitchen, and permanent residency that Catholic Community Services has to offer in Tacoma – and not sad about the countless people working hard to serve the homeless community, but I am angry and sad that we live in a culture that allows so many of its citizens to end up here. Here, as in without food and without stable housing in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

And so I begin my search to find out what it means to be homeless in Tacoma, and how all of these services and surveys and time spent waiting in lines connect.

Homeless, with children

It is mid-January and unseasonably warm for a Northwest winter. Still, for Char and John, the prospect of spending cold nights in their car, along with their two children, a daughter age 21 months and a four year old son is daunting. Without a stable home for over a year, they have spent every few months scrambling to find a place to stay.

They have lived with family, friends, and in a home wading through foreclosure. Now, with their resources exhausted, they are facing homelessness on the streets.

“People don’t realize how quickly hypothermia can set in,” Char tells me, “Honestly, I care more about my kid’s safety than my own.” But Char is concerned with her own safety, too. The saying goes that “everyone is one medical disaster away from homelessness,” and in their case, the saying rings true.

Their road to homelessness began over four years ago, when Char worked as a server at a popular spaghetti restaurant. She was the person you would call to cover shifts, she tells me, and was damn good at her job. When an illness she had been struggling with for more than a decade began to worsen, her first response was denial. “I would just push through it,” she said. She knew that once her hours slipped, she and her family would be in dire straits.

John had lost his job as a custodial supervisor at a hospital because his department was outsourced. They had just had their son. He got the call a day before returning to work from family leave.

Char’s health did not improve. She was out of work for months at a time, suffering from kidney infections and rare conditions like blood poisoning, meningitis, and cat-scratch fever. “I mean, who gets this shit?” she says. She needed a diagnosis but couldn’t see a specialist because no insurance would cover her pre-existing conditions.

They were hanging by a thread and managing to squeak by on John’s small severance package and meager help from the state when John fell down a flight of stairs and shattered one of his legs.

With all savings gone, they had to leave their apartment.

The waiting game

One of the hardest things about being homeless is how long one has to wait. You wait in line for food. You wait in line for shelter. You wait to speak to someone who knows where to go for resources like therapy or medical help. You wait and wait and wait. Waiting becomes a full-time job for someone who is doesn’t have a place to live. And if you can’t get where you need to be on time? Well, you just have to wait some more.

Char and John first reached out to Access Point 4 Housing in October 2014, but the first appointment available wasn’t until mid-November. Access Point is the centralized intake center for Pierce County that connects homeless people or those in danger of homelessness to the service provider that best suits their needs.

The first of its kind in Washington State, since 2011 it has helped people find the program they need with one phone call, as opposed to attempting to contact hundreds of agencies on their own. According to the 2012 Tacoma, Lakewood, and Pierce County Continuum of Care’s Plan to End Homelessness, “This has yielded better data on the demographics of those seeking assistance, and has underscored the dire need for affordable housing, education, employment, and other supportive services in our community.”

Unfortunately, for those seeking immediate shelter, it’s a crap shoot whether there is space available. In the case of Adams Street Family Shelter, Char and John place a call every morning at 8 am on the dot, to see if a spot has opened. If not, they will face another 24 hours on the streets.

Char and John have no luck getting into a family shelter with those phone calls.

The other hoop to jump through is that you must prove you are homeless with a “Certificate of Homelessness” to receive any services like rapid re-housing or transitional shelter. And, of course, this certification requires an appointment with a place like Access Point or a visit to a shelter.

Luckily, Char and John have transportation, and are able to find help and get their certificate at Open Hearth Ministries in Puyallup.

But it isn’t only Access Point that keeps them waiting. There are only six agencies in the Tacoma and Lakewood area that provide shelter or temporary housing for homeless couples with children. The rest primarily serve single adults, women with children, the mentally ill, and veterans. It is extremely difficult to be a two-adult homeless family with children in our city and get any swift support.

“I have exhausted the limited resources and enlisted the help of our pediatrician, the kids’ daycare director, our DSHS case worker, and our YMCA social worker. It boils down to limited supply and very high demand,” Char tells me.

A quick call to the Adams Street Family Campus –the Tacoma Rescue Mission’s family housing program –confirms what she says. They tell me that there’s no way to tell how long of a wait there can be for a family unit. It is all dependent upon a family’s entry date and how long their stay is: a couple of weeks, or much longer.

Photo by Rachel Moreshead

Clockwise from left to right: John, Anya, Char, and Rowan. Photo by Rachel Moreshead

 

The end of the road

Char, John, and their children end up spending most of February in their van. For a couple of weekends they are able to crash on friends’ couches. Char tells me about tricks to stay warm in the car, like using Mylar on the windows and finding sleeping bags 10 degrees warmer than you think you might need. At night, an alarm will be set for every couple of hours, reminding them to start the engine for a few minutes of warmth. They can’t remove the passenger seats, so they fold up squares of memory foam mattress toppers from their old bed so that their children will have a soft spot to sleep. They curl up on the floor between the front and middle rows.

Char persists in calling every resource she knows while staying in the van. At one point, she takes up the task of calling and appearing at the agencies personally rather than relying on the Access Point caseworker. She is determined to get her family a safe place to live.

Finally, in early March, a small light of relief shines in. John lands a job as a dishwasher. He is looking into returning to school. They are referred to Helping Hand House, which places them temporarily in a unit in Sumner. After that, they can be placed in what is considered rapid re-housing, and are again referred to another agency –this time Network Tacoma—who works with landlords to help people with not-so-great credit, rental, and employment history find stability through housing. They pay their deposit and screening fees.

At the end of March they are settled into an apartment. It’s not in the greatest area, the walls are a battleship gray primer and Char can hear the melancholy sounds of Taps through the windows, but there is heat. And a refrigerator. And a place for her little ones to sleep without getting too cold.

They are still playing the waiting game, but there is hope now while they wait. Char is dealing with the notorious and labyrinthine bureaucracy of social security and the disability process, and is still searching for the cause of her severe autoimmune disorder that has been the cause of her illness for so long. But at least she now has medical coverage through the Affordable Care Act. And she tells me she has found a doctor that listens and doesn’t just think she’s crazy.

I ask her if she could give one piece of advice to people facing homelessness what it would be and she says, “I just want people to know that this could happen, regardless of whether they’ve done anything wrong. Sometimes it’s not their fault.”

And sometimes people don’t just slip through the cracks, but get lost while waiting in line.

Read Homeless in Tacoma part two: moving beyond reaction and Part three: our invisible youth.

Featured image of Tacoma skyline by Ryan Lowry

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About the Author

Rachel Ervin

Co-Managing Editor, freelancer of everything, UWTacoma alumna, parent, partner, lover of beans. You can follow her thoughts on feminist weather patterns @RacheErvKorbski.



20 Responses to Homeless in Tacoma, part one: waiting in line

  1. Someone In the System says:

    Rachel, I appreciate the time you took to help with the PIT Count and also paint this picture for Post Defiance readers. I thought you accurately captured some of the challenges in getting services, and how unfortunately easy it can be for any low-middle SES household to fall into homelessness with unfortunate luck. I also praise you for describing the “full time job of waiting.” I hope that readers will better understand the many hoops people experiencing homelessness have to jump through–and solving the biggest crisis in their lives may mean they have no time to improve other parts.

    However, there are some misconceptions here that I think could have been resolved with a little fact checking. Some of them can influence how the situations in the story are read, and others are just technical. But I would like to take a moment to set the record straight on a few of them anyway:
    1)The PIT count DOES include people who are staying in shelters or transitional housing. However, it’s done using data from an existing database of those utilizing services, not in the survey.
    2) AP4H is contractually obligated to make appointments for all callers within 5 days.
    3) It is not a “crap-shoot” to see who gets services after receiving an assessment at AP4H. It may seem random to those who need services, and it’s true there is little pattern to how openings appear. But the assignment is a calculated process, and those with the highest barriers often get left out, unable to enter any of the programs. Pierce County Community Connections, who funds many of these programs and runs the PIT Count, is actively working to change this around. It’s a habit our system fell into long ago.
    4) You only need to re-call AP4H every 90 days to update information. I think you’re confusing the daily 8 am call for the Adams Street Shelter. Adams Street is the only drop-in family shelter in Tacoma. There are other family shelters, but access to them is through the AP4H referral process. Once you’re on their placement roster, you could be referred to a shelter when an opening happens, and you do not need to make a daily phone call.
    Adult shelters, on the other hand, are an entirely different system. They are exclusively drop-in, and have a designated time in the evening to get a bed. Those who had beds the night before have first priority, but they can lose their bed if they don’t return.
    5) I’m skeptical on the statement of how difficult it is for two-parent families to receive support in comparison to other demographic groups. Finding support is difficult for people experiencing homelessness, period. I believe that proportional to the types of households experiencing homelessness, there is more funding for families than there are for individuals, and most of the family funding is irrespective to whether it’s a single or two-parent household.

    For future installments in this series, I’d encourage you to learn more about Rapid Re-Housing and Housing First oriented programs and how they’re changing the face of homeless systems.

    • Someone In the System says:

      Oh, I had one more thing to say, and I think this one’s important enough to warrant a second reply:
      6) I wanted to explain Homeless Certifications more, because the way it reads here, it seems like it’s a cruel requirement that exists just to prevent people from getting services. Things are bad, but not that bad. While AP4H encourages you to bring that docmentation, it’s not required at that point. However, once a family is referred to a provider who will give them housing, it becomes a necessity, since the providers are under a lot of pressure from the funders to make sure they’re only helping people who are “literally” homeless (i.e. in a shelter, on the street, or in their vehicles or any other place not meant for human habitation). AP4H cannot and does not provide verification of homelessness for the providers: they’re just the referrer. Different providers handle acquiring this certification in different ways. Often it comes from proof they stayed in the shelter or a written statement from another provider who “knows” the clients are homeless. Sometimes that provider can say they verified the client was staying in the car, accompanied with a self-declaration from the client. So, it’s not always a wild goose chase to get a required piece of paper.

      • Rachel Ervin Rachel Ervin says:

        Thanks so much for ironing out some of those technicalities. I have made a few adjustments to the article. I do have to say, I would have loved to have spoken to you (or someone who could break it down as you just did so succinctly) during my research and interview process.
        I spent nearly three months doing research and reading everything I could on Housing First initiatives and rapid rehousing. I reached out to several Tacoma agencies (including and especially Pierce County Community Connections) for interviews and information and was met with cancelled meetings, general unresponsiveness, and at last silence. I would be happy to further this conversation and do what I can to help clarify the process for families in this situation, and welcome your response. You can email me directly at rachelervin@postdefiance.com.

    • Steph says:

      2 is untrue. I called Access Point 4 Housing on Oct 25th and couldn’t get an appt until Nov 7th. Maybe it’s changed in the last year, but it’s definitely not within 5 days. It’s now the 28th of Nov, and no news. Once the info is in the system, they have no way of knowing how long of a wait there will be. I’m 35, in my vehicle, with my 2 cats and my dog, I’ve got major depressive disorder, general and social anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, panic disorder, hypothyroidism, PCOS with insulin resistance, chronic pain syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, GERD, joint pain, insomnia, and have no clue what I’m doing. I’ve never been homeless before. Lakewood won’t let you park overnight anywhere, not even Walmart. I didn’t get unemployment, I have to wait probably at least 15 more months to get a hearing for my disability appeal. My only income is food stamps and $197 in HEN. That doesn’t go very far. My credit and rental history are awful, rents have gone up so much. Even apartments are hard to find. And motels are so expensive, you can’t find a decent weekly rate at a place that allows pets.
      Pierce County needs more resources, period, and they need to lift the ban on sleeping in your vehicle, at least at more places. I’m quiet, I stay in my car, I’m responsible for my garbage, I try to use the restroom sparingly, and purchase items from the store. I also don’t do drugs or drink. This whole situation is frustrating.

  2. Seth says:

    Beautiful, poignant writing Rachel. We do live in a society that tolerates poverty, and that has to change.

    God bless.

  3. someone else in the system says:

    Thank you Rachel! No matter what the rules and policies are at homeless services agencies in Tacoma, the experience you describe is common to many people. There are organizations doing great work, but there is also a lot of harm created by the system. You can justify it and explain why it happens but it still happens. So I thank you for raising awareness around the issue. One critique, you end the article with the quote, “sometimes its not their fault”, which implies there are those who deserve to be homeless. We Americans believe that homelessness is a failing of the individual and refuse to see how the broader context not only contributes to homelessness but also makes it very difficult to rebound once a person becomes homeless. We need to face the realities that you describe in your article and stop shaming, blaming, and stigmatizing the homeless. This only worsens the problem.

  4. Linda says:

    We receive many requests for help at our church. We do our best to connect people to a helpful agency of some kind. Recently we became acquainted with a homeless family from out of state. One of our members took them into their own home for a short time, the church provided gift cards for phone minutes and other needs, clothes, food, transportation to appointments, encouragement, and when an apartment was finally found, provided appliances, mattress, bedding, and toys at Christmas. Two church families visited their apartment building, offering help, moral support, asking about needs. The father tried hard to get labor ready work as a carpenter, but found only a day here and there. They did not qualify for Adams because the family was a dad with 3 daughters, no car, so they couldn’t prove they were homeless.
    One visit from the mother of the girls, a meth addict, and it all went to pieces. The father let her in, listened to her pleas, went back to their former state, and now he is in jail for being around drugs, the kids are in foster care, mother is strung out and pregnant by another man with child number 5. he knew and expressed that the girls should not be around her, but chose to act otherwise.
    We were fully engaged to see this family through this crisis. It is difficult to gather support for the next family in crisis when those who gave so freely and generously feel taken advantage of.
    Our church volunteers and financially supports the food bank, supports the Rescue Mission, and others. I feel that a lot of the poverty we see is not because we accept it or ignore it. We have a lot of poverty because people do make bad choices. Even foreclosures can be avoided when families plan better for the future. I came from poverty, I know what it means to not have money. but we always had a roof over our head because it was made the main priority. I have had to teach people in my church that shelter comes first, you don’t skip the mortgage to buy food, or pay a credit card. You don’t quit a job until you know you have another one. You don’t live on credit cards. My husband lost his job as an educator, I only worked part time. he immediately went to work in a hardware store. We paid our mortgage, and when moving for another job, paid mortgage and apartment rent at the same time until our house sold.
    As a teacher for many years, I visited the homes of my young children. I saw how young couples spend their hard earned dollars. They lived in run down apartments and falling down houses, but the the television was the size of a car. The children buy treats from the ice cream truck and then they don’t have money for supper. In my own family, members buy new cars instead of used, get the newest remotes for them, were first to have laptops and cell phones, and then couldn’t make their mortgage.
    My heart tells me that a great deal of our poverty in America comes from a lack of education, upbringing, and a moral sense of taking care of oneself. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, It is gathered from observation and experience. I feel the Rescue Mission has the right idea, they don’t just put people up for a night, they teach them skills, help them learn to read, move them towards independence and self-care. That’s why there is a waiting list because they truly help families so they are not back again for shelter and help, but on their way to taking care of themselves. One night of shelter does not solve a families crisis. They need help to see how they got to where they are.
    People who come to our church mostly ask for cash. We give when we can and help many. However, one must also observe that they smoke, drink, have a smart phone, and when visiting with them it becomes apparent that choices have brought them to our door. We do not judge them, but a part of me says that the real help is in helping them learn HOW to live.
    A man and woman were spending nights last winter in our church breezeway. We let them do that as long as they clean up after themselves and are gone by the time female staff arrives in the morning. The man who was in dire straits was homeless because he set fire to his house by cooking a turkey in an oil cooker INDOORS! I told him that the Red Cross provides housing in the case of fire. He said they did for 2 nights until they learned how his house burned down. The house was not insured, he was wheeling his belongings around in a recycle bin. He and his friend gathered some matches, stones and paper and started a small campfire in the breezeway of our church UNDER a wooden bench! Choices. We had to tell him to leave for the safety of our people and facility, how can you help someone who has no regard for property?
    I write this in response to the comment about our society not caring and just accepting poverty. There are many who care, give, help. It seems the numbers in need are growing though in Tacoma, and there are reasons for that. Our mild weather makes living outside more tolerable, WA state aid is well known in other states, and as I work with those in need I learn that they become quite adept at knowing where to find free help. A gentleman at the food bank was telling me and another client about all the different places he goes to find food, hygiene products, clothing, everything he needs. I am glad for him that he finds what he needs. Could that effort be turned into self-care?
    The poor will always be with us, it is part of the human condition. A moral compass, teaching of common sense and responsibility for one’s self, and better teaching of life skills while young, boundaries for what is acceptable or not, will all help us move towards less of the population standing in line to satisfy needs. If each parent, teacher, pastor, community leader, mentor, would lean into some of these kinds of efforts perhaps some hope would emerge. In the meantime, we sign up our volunteers for the food bank:).

    • Stacey says:

      …”a great deal of our poverty in America comes from a lack of education, upbringing, and a moral sense of taking care of oneself.”
      Linda, your statement is the wisest, most succinct I’ve seen published anywhere! This is the root of many of the societal ills facing us today but few will admit it. Thanks.

  5. Concerned says:

    Rachel Ervin, you have been hoodwinked by Char and John. They failed to mention their two other children who I presume are over the age of 18. As a society we must care for all of God’s children but where is the responsibility? The two other children were born after they other children were adults to my recollection. I am not a staunch conservative, but I have a serious illness and I had no children. This was by choice. I am sorry to hear Char has an autoimmune disorder but one with no specific name is nearly impossible for disability adjudicators to award disability payments. Disability is not intended to be a ticket to college. I think John and Char have now learned that safety nets are few and far between. My empathy is for the children who did not ask to be born into poverty that may never end. I am not heartless, in fact, I am deeply compassionate. At some point though as a culture we have to start holding people responsible for their decisions. At the same time we have to care for the innocent children.

    • Rhiannon McDove says:

      I am Char’s niece and wanted to point out to you that the writer wasn’t hoodwinked by them. The older kids are out of the house and are legal aduts that can go into bars. This story barely even touches the problems that they went through. Also while having kids does put you higher on the list there aren’t as many options/openings for families and once they are filled you are out of luck until it opens up again. Washington has laws about how many people can be fit into a bedroom so if you’re a family of four you need at least two bedrooms and the room has to have a window and closet to count as an actual bedroom.

  6. Concerned says:

    Char and John also very smart. When you are declared homeless and have children, this places you at the top of the waiting list for housing. If people actually believe they did not know this, then I have a bridge to sell to you.

  7. Foxfire says:

    John was still employed and had no idea of the impending layoff when Char found out she was pregnant (and she was using birth control for both kids, by the way; no birth control is 100% effective even if you are taking it correctly, I myself know from experience and it is a known fact in the pharmaceutical literature). Whether or not they decided to not abort or have their kids is NOT your call or choice to make, and certainly none of your business. There was no “hoodwinking” here. Their older kids are adults now and are not mentioned as they are not part of the current household situation. You obviously do not know Char or you would know she is an EXCEEDINGLY honest, open, and up-front person and does not go around trying to “hoodwink” people. All I can say to Concerned is, be careful who you judge on, as karma will put you in the same shoes as those you judge, discriminate or hate on sooner or later so that you learn your lessons there…karma comes to us all, especially the ignorant assumers among us. Until you have also been laid off out of nowhere, had serious illness or injury knock you down out of nowhere (and by the way, she DOES have a diagnosis), or found that you got pregnant because your birth control failed you, you obviously don’t have a clue what’s it’s really like to go through any of the abvove. You think you’re the first ignoramus to think you have the right to play God and judge them? Get in line. So judge away, all of you who clearly don’t know any better, but remember that it will come back on/to you in the end (“judge not lest ye be judged also”).

  8. Foxfire says:

    Also, “Concerned,” no, being homeless with children does not necessarily place you at the top of the housing list in Tacoma, as Rachel quite clearly covered in her article. It goes to SINGLE mothers with Social Security verified disability first, and then to others such as couples, ect. with SS verified disability paperwork with kids after that, and then on to single mothers or other single head of household status folks with kids, and then on to couples with kids. Char has applied for Social Security disabilit status, but that takes a while to get approved, so she is not disabled “on paper” yet, meaning her health conditions/illnesses are not taken into account on the waiting lists. They are merely just a “regular” couple with kids on paper right now until her disability gets approved and verified by Social Security. Again, obviously you have not been in the same situation and are judging off of assumptions or you would clearly know this.

  9. Foxfire says:

    I also find it interesting that you talk as if you know them, but CLEARLY you do not like you think you do, lol.

  10. Concerned says:

    Karma also comes to those who make bad choices. Why with two adult children would Char decide to have more children? Char has always been a hard worker, this I know. John as as well. You presume I do not know what it is like to fall on hard times. Well, I most certainly do. However, I chose not to bring children into the mix. Now two of you claim birth control failed. Foxfire, did it fail you five times? Four times? I cannot keep track. I can only hope the adult children make better choices but only if they have had access to better role models, not likely. Char and John also could have gone to the grandparent’s up north of Tacoma. A LOT of people do NOT have that safety net. People presume the government has endless reams of money for this stuff, but they do not. Sadly, stories like these make social workers angry, organizations get overloaded and nothing changes because the incentives to keep making bad choices are too great. I am just speaking a truth. Again, all of the eight or nine of the kids between the two of you have had a hard start and a bad break and may they find a better life for themselves.

  11. Alison says:

    Best of luck with the disability claim too. It can take years now as so many people in this state have applied cases are being sent to AK and OR and elsewhere for review. The issue is this: WA has been so lax with welfare benefits and so many people have taken advantage of them that WA is taxed out. Being disabled is not the same thing as being underemployed, uneducated and underemployed or sick and tired of working for low wages (which does suck). Other states have very low unemployment rates. As low as 5 percent. These states, however, hold people accountable so the savvy folks flooded WA State from elsewhere and now we are broke. Notice all the pot holes? Now we have toll bridges. Everyone is paying for the poor decisions made by others. Thanks. A lot. Now that is some Karma for certain. For you.

    • Alison says:

      What we the people need to work for are middle class jobs and more incentives to provide young adults with the hope of a better life. Just today my second cousin was admitted to a college’s engineering program. His father lives in poverty, by choice, as he has never had an on the books job. My first cousin has worked very hard to provide him with a middle class life. I do get that times are weird. College is too expensive. Wages are too low. Everything costs too much. We need to work for THESE changes. These are the things I do. I give voice and hope to those who are hopeless. The kids who think they cannot break the cycle. God or Buddha or Krishna bless those who are giving kids hope. And opportunities.

  12. elijah says:

    I have worked as a social worker and non profit fundraiser for 17 years. The safety net has gaping holes. In fact during the most recent crash TANF (welfare ) funds were cut So that a family of 3 receives 385.00 monthly in cash. Most do NOT receive other services such as housing. Times are hard, poverty is systemic and propped up by the government. The WA State min wage of 9 47 hourly is 1600 or so monthlY. Rent is Tacoma for a two bedroom is nearly 1000. Pretty easy math. It’s hard to make it as a low income family. And regardless of the poor choices we all tend to make sometimes, once a child is here that argument us pointless. They are here. They need housed and fed, like it or not.

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