Driving Toward Help for Homeless


Illustration by Marlee Morrow

Our homeless shelters are full, so now we are opening up our prisons. According to an announcement made on Oct. 11, King County plans to turn a wing of downtown Seattle jail into a shelter for homeless people.

King County, especially Seattle, has one of the worst homelessness crisis’ in the United States. A large majority of our current emergency night shelters are out of room, which is causing over 40 percent of homeless individuals or families to be unsheltered.

Through my internship at the Sophia Way, a nonprofit that helps single homeless women, I have learned quite a bit about the real issue that homelessness is.

At my internship, we discuss the way people perceive homelessness. When we explain this, we use the metaphor of a highway and exits.

The highway represents our journey to to help and accept those who are experiencing homelessness and the exits represent all the excuses people traditionally use as reasons for not supporting people experiencing homelessness.

I have also gotten the chance to hear the stories of a few women, like this one:

“I became homeless after I lost my job and couldn’t renew my lease. I had no family, and nowhere to go…”

Often times we use the excuse that people become homeless due to a series of bad decisions or laziness. In reality, a majority of these people become homeless because of things they can’t control. Like the loss of a job, domestic abuse, or losing support of family.

Another negative depiction of homelessness is that it would end if they all just got jobs. The harsh truth is that homelessness is not protected, which means that businesses are legally allowed to refuse to hire the homeless. They can even fire someone for the sole reason that they are homeless.

I hope to encourage other students to take another look at the homelessness crisis. The links below provide a few different places where teens can volunteer with people experiencing homelessness:

Teen Feed

Sophia Way (16+)

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