It is important for the community to know what happens when you are homeless and you need shelter.
For starters you can’t just call everyone you think might be able to help you. Everyone who needs housing has to go through Access Point for Housing, available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. For those of us in the Lakewood area we were used to thinking we could just call our local provider, LASA.
In fact over the years when I ran into a homeless family I called LASA and we were able to work together to help the family move into emergency shelter and then on to permanent housing. Now any shelter provider receiving any government support HAS to accept referrals from Access Point for Housing, now called AP4H (253-682-3401). So to be placed in any LASA housing you can only go through AP4H.
Originally this was meant to make it easier on families so they didn’t have to spend their days calling shelters for a chance at an opening. This may be a good system, but like everything else it has drawbacks. Of course the biggest problem is that there just isn’t enough affordable housing and the shelters are full. Keep in mind that those who need services can be frustrated by the lack of available services AND those who provide services are frustrated too.
At Clover Park High School one staff person dealing with homeless high school students says she has been working with nine students since the beginning of school. There were two more students in her office this last week. This is only one of the many staff members dealing with kids who are homeless. The number continues to increase. They estimate there are 3,000 high school kids and young adults who are homeless in Pierce County. How many more students at that school are homeless? How many more kids in our school district are homeless? With 9,501 kids in Clover Park School District on free and reduced the chance of being homeless is high.
From cars, tents and the streets our kids are not coming to school ready to learn.
We need to wake-up and understand that we have a major problem in our community. What do you think we should do?