[Hpn] Volunteers work to find housing for the homeless~It's a basic human right they say!

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sat, 05 Aug 2006 06:30:56 -0400


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      Saturday, August 5, 2006 Printable Version E-mail to a Friend=20


Volunteers work to find housing for the homeless

By JANE GARGAS
YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC


             GORDON KINGYakima Herald-Republic

            Mark Shotgun, left, talks with homeless advocate Steve =
Gaulke on Tuesday as he, Judy and Martinez Charles hang out in an =
alleyway off Chestnut Avenue in Yakima. Gaulke is working to get =
homeless people off the streets of Yakima and into affordable housing.
          =20
    =20
It's a basic human right, they say.=20

Like air, water and food.=20

Housing.=20

And a newly formed group of about 20 volunteers is intent on ensuring =
that affordable housing is available for people in need here.=20

Called Housing Help for Yakima, the group meets twice a month to =
advocate for the homeless and those on the edge of homelessness.=20

"Getting people off the streets is the concept," says Steve Gaulke, a =
Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health outreach worker for the =
homeless, who co-founded the group a few months ago with John and Kate =
Parrish of Yakima.=20

Schoolteacher Marylyn Mackey explains why she joined: "We're not here on =
Earth very long, and if our brothers and sisters don't have a place to =
stay, we have a responsibility to affect change."=20

The group is focusing on two areas: helping secure more affordable =
housing in Yakima and fostering a mentoring program in which volunteers =
are paired with the homeless to aid with housing and related issues.=20

"It's to help them make the jump from homeless to housed," says John =
Parrish.=20

More housing is an obvious need, say group members.=20

In January, the annual count of homeless in the county found 1,265 =
homeless people - up from the 1,190 the survey had found a year earlier. =


That's a byproduct of poverty, Kate Parrish says.=20

According to the United Way of Yakima County, more than one in five =
people lived below the federal poverty level in the county in 2004.=20

Nor is poverty the only barrier to affordable housing, say group =
members; high rents don't help. Yet, again according to United Way =
statistics, the percent of median household income needed to rent a =
two-bedroom home in the county was 55 percent.=20

Housing advocates consider 25-30 percent viable.=20

Availability is another hurdle.=20

Triumph Treatment Services is one of the few facilities downtown that =
offers studio apartments to homeless on a sliding-scale fee.=20

Gaulke calls the Triumph complex a model because support services are =
offered to tenants, including social workers and substance abuse =
treatment, and homeless tenants are integrated with people who haven't =
been homeless.=20

Grouping the homeless together in one big complex wouldn't work, says =
Gaulke; it's better to incorporate them into facilities with a mixture =
of tenants.=20

"We'd like to see developers do a mix of housing downtown, blending =
different income levels together," Gaulke says.=20

The ideal, says member Elisabeth Tutsch, is developing a building that =
contains a set number of low income offerings, such as two out of every =
five units.=20

Gaulke says everyone wants downtown to be beautiful and safe; keeping =
the homeless off the streets would contribute to a healthier downtown =
core.=20

Mackey points out that letting the homeless fend for themselves on the =
street has hidden costs - financially as well as personally.=20

Services to homeless people, such as involvement from police and fire =
personnel, ambulances, emergency rooms and food banks, aren't cheap.=20

Gaulke maintains that it costs significantly more to keep a homeless =
person on the street than the $13,000 he estimates it takes to provide =
housing and support services for a year.=20

Mackey agrees. "I think if people saw the advantages in monetary terms =
of eliminating homelessness, they'd see that it behooves us to get them =
off the street."=20

Admitting that homelessness may be never eradicated, Gaulke believes =
affordable housing, paired with ancillary services, would make =
significant inroads in the problem.=20

"Sure, there are some really tough people to serve," he concedes. "A lot =
of these people drink, but a lot don't.=20

"But everyone needs a place to live. It's the morally right thing," he =
says.=20

On a recent morning, a group of homeless people gathered in a downtown =
Yakima alley to talk and befriend each other. Some were passing around a =
40-ounce bottle of beer, others weren't drinking.=20

Several spoke about what they believe would help them.=20

Martinez Charles said he would like to have access to public showers.=20

Natalie, who didn't give her last name but who said she had lived here =
all her life, added, "A place to wash clothes, clean up and have =
breakfast."=20

Billy Jack, a veteran who served in Vietnam, said he wished there were =
more job-training programs.=20

"Could I voice my opinion?" asked Clifford Thomas. "Why don't they put =
some of us in the empty jail by the fairgrounds?"=20

Clifford, who described sleeping under freeway bridges, said, "I'd live =
at the jail; at least you're off the streets."=20

Just about anything would suffice, said Mark Shotgun, who at 46 has had =
a heart attack and suffers seizures.=20

"I only have a sleeping bag and a corner," he said.=20

When he's hungry, he said he looks for food in garbage bins.=20

Martinez Charles thinks the homeless are a group everyone wishes would =
simply disappear.=20

"What's going on with America?" he asked. "They've lost their tradition =
of helping."=20


Housing Help for Yakima=20

* WHO: Housing Help for Yakima, a group of volunteers advocating =
affordable housing for people in need.=20

* WHEN: Meetings are the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. The =
next meeting is Tuesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.=20

* WHERE: St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 5 S. Naches Ave.=20

* WHY: Members say that ensuring everyone has a place to live is a moral =
obligation.=20

* For more information, write HousingHelpYakima@msn.com or call =
480-2054.



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    <TD align=3Dleft><SPAN class=3Dpubdate>Saturday, August 5, =
2006</SPAN></TD>
    <TD align=3Dright><SPAN class=3Dbodysmall><A=20
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<DIV><BR clear=3Dall><SPAN class=3DcHeadline3>Volunteers work to find =
housing for=20
the homeless</SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3DcHeadline3></SPAN><BR><SPAN class=3Dcauthor>By JANE=20
GARGAS</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=3Dyhr>YAKIMA =
HERALD-REPUBLIC</SPAN><BR></DIV><SPAN=20
class=3Dkeydeck14>
<P></P>
<P>
<TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D5 align=3Dright border=3D0>
  <TBODY>
  <TR>
    <TD>
      <TABLE cellSpacing=3D1 cellPadding=3D4 width=3D240 =
bgColor=3D#999999 border=3D0>
        <TBODY>
        <TR>
          <TD bgColor=3D#eeeeee><IMG height=3D178=20
            =
src=3D"http://img.yakima-herald.com/temporaryimages/bp92936.jpg"=20
            width=3D240 border=3D1> <SPAN class=3Dphotocredit>GORDON =
KINGYakima=20
            Herald-Republic</SPAN><BR><BR><SPAN class=3Dcaption>Mark =
Shotgun,=20
            left, talks with homeless advocate Steve Gaulke on Tuesday =
as he,=20
            Judy and Martinez Charles hang out in an alleyway off =
Chestnut=20
            Avenue in Yakima. Gaulke is working to get homeless people =
off the=20
            streets of Yakima and into affordable=20
        =
housing.<BR></SPAN></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>It=
's a=20
basic human right, they say. </P>
<P>Like air, water and food. </P>
<P>Housing. </P>
<P>And a newly formed group of about 20 volunteers is intent on ensuring =
that=20
affordable housing is available for people in need here. </P>
<P>Called Housing Help for Yakima, the group meets twice a month to =
advocate for=20
the homeless and those on the edge of homelessness. </P>
<P>"Getting people off the streets is the concept," says Steve Gaulke, a =
Central=20
Washington Comprehensive Mental Health outreach worker for the homeless, =
who=20
co-founded the group a few months ago with John and Kate Parrish of =
Yakima. </P>
<P>Schoolteacher Marylyn Mackey explains why she joined: "We're not here =
on=20
Earth very long, and if our brothers and sisters don't have a place to =
stay, we=20
have a responsibility to affect change." </P>
<P>The group is focusing on two areas: helping secure more affordable =
housing in=20
Yakima and fostering a mentoring program in which volunteers are paired =
with the=20
homeless to aid with housing and related issues. </P>
<P>"It's to help them make the jump from homeless to housed," says John =
Parrish.=20
</P>
<P>More housing is an obvious need, say group members. </P>
<P>In January, the annual count of homeless in the county found 1,265 =
homeless=20
people =97 up from the 1,190 the survey had found a year earlier. </P>
<P>That's a byproduct of poverty, Kate Parrish says. </P>
<P>According to the United Way of Yakima County, more than one in five =
people=20
lived below the federal poverty level in the county in 2004. </P>
<P>Nor is poverty the only barrier to affordable housing, say group =
members;=20
high rents don't help. Yet, again according to United Way statistics, =
the=20
percent of median household income needed to rent a two-bedroom home in =
the=20
county was 55 percent. </P>
<P>Housing advocates consider 25-30 percent viable. </P>
<P>Availability is another hurdle. </P>
<P>Triumph Treatment Services is one of the few facilities downtown that =
offers=20
studio apartments to homeless on a sliding-scale fee. </P>
<P>Gaulke calls the Triumph complex a model because support services are =
offered=20
to tenants, including social workers and substance abuse treatment, and =
homeless=20
tenants are integrated with people who haven't been homeless. </P>
<P>Grouping the homeless together in one big complex wouldn't work, says =
Gaulke;=20
it's better to incorporate them into facilities with a mixture of =
tenants. </P>
<P>"We'd like to see developers do a mix of housing downtown, blending =
different=20
income levels together," Gaulke says. </P>
<P>The ideal, says member Elisabeth Tutsch, is developing a building =
that=20
contains a set number of low income offerings, such as two out of every =
five=20
units. </P>
<P>Gaulke says everyone wants downtown to be beautiful and safe; keeping =
the=20
homeless off the streets would contribute to a healthier downtown core. =
</P>
<P>Mackey points out that letting the homeless fend for themselves on =
the street=20
has hidden costs =97 financially as well as personally. </P>
<P>Services to homeless people, such as involvement from police and fire =

personnel, ambulances, emergency rooms and food banks, aren't cheap. =
</P>
<P>Gaulke maintains that it costs significantly more to keep a homeless =
person=20
on the street than the $13,000 he estimates it takes to provide housing =
and=20
support services for a year. </P>
<P>Mackey agrees. "I think if people saw the advantages in monetary =
terms of=20
eliminating homelessness, they'd see that it behooves us to get them off =
the=20
street." </P>
<P>Admitting that homelessness may be never eradicated, Gaulke believes=20
affordable housing, paired with ancillary services, would make =
significant=20
inroads in the problem. </P>
<P>"Sure, there are some really tough people to serve," he concedes. "A =
lot of=20
these people drink, but a lot don't. </P>
<P>"But everyone needs a place to live. It's the morally right thing," =
he says.=20
</P>
<P>On a recent morning, a group of homeless people gathered in a =
downtown Yakima=20
alley to talk and befriend each other. Some were passing around a =
40-ounce=20
bottle of beer, others weren't drinking. </P>
<P>Several spoke about what they believe would help them. </P>
<P>Martinez Charles said he would like to have access to public showers. =
</P>
<P>Natalie, who didn't give her last name but who said she had lived =
here all=20
her life, added, "A place to wash clothes, clean up and have breakfast." =
</P>
<P>Billy Jack, a veteran who served in Vietnam, said he wished there =
were more=20
job-training programs. </P>
<P>"Could I voice my opinion?" asked Clifford Thomas. "Why don't they =
put some=20
of us in the empty jail by the fairgrounds?" </P>
<P>Clifford, who described sleeping under freeway bridges, said, "I'd =
live at=20
the jail; at least you're off the streets." </P>
<P>Just about anything would suffice, said Mark Shotgun, who at 46 has =
had a=20
heart attack and suffers seizures. </P>
<P>"I only have a sleeping bag and a corner," he said. </P>
<P>When he's hungry, he said he looks for food in garbage bins. </P>
<P>Martinez Charles thinks the homeless are a group everyone wishes =
would simply=20
disappear. </P>
<P>"What's going on with America?" he asked. "They've lost their =
tradition of=20
helping." </P>
<P></P>
<P><B>Housing Help for Yakima</B> </P>
<P>* WHO: Housing Help for Yakima, a group of volunteers advocating =
affordable=20
housing for people in need. </P>
<P>* WHEN: Meetings are the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. =
The next=20
meeting is Tuesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. </P>
<P>* WHERE: St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 5 S. Naches Ave. </P>
<P>* WHY: Members say that ensuring everyone has a place to live is a =
moral=20
obligation. </P>
<P>* For more information, write HousingHelpYakima@msn.com or call=20
480-2054.</P></SPAN>

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