Whenever Real Change does a fund drive, we are amazed and grateful for the strong community support that makes our work possible. We hear stories about the difference we’ve made in vendors’ lives. We hear gratitude for our quality reporting and the issues we highlight.
We hear how people appreciate the opportunities and community that we create while we take on the bigger issues that drive homelessness.
But every once in a while, we get a donation that knocks us back on our heels and helps us see the value of our work anew.
Last week, we opened the mail one afternoon to find a brief letter along with a $1,000 check from a brand new supporter:
On 8/14/14 you came to support us at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center. I was part of the Theodora Rescue Committee. People who were homeless spoke on our behalf. We were living indoors.
This is part of the money paid [by the Volunteers of America, the owners] to ease me out the door. I am now a displaced person ... indoors, and recognizing my good fortune.
You do great work! Thank you,
(Name withheld by request)
This was The Rally to Save the Theodora, organized by the Theodora Rescue Committee and the Tenants Union of Washington State, where seven Real Change vendors testified in front of Seattle’s Dept. of Planning and Development to support the low-income and disabled residents of the apartment building.
With nearly half of our vendors self-identifying as having at least one physical or mental health disability, the relationship between their own struggles and the displaced residents of the Theodora was not lost on us. The vendors testified to the long housing wait lists and the lack of affordability of our area.
The Theodora was one of the last buildings in Ballard where low-income and disabled residents paid market-rate rents that were still affordable. A discrimination lawsuit filed by the Northwest Justice Project failed to block the sale.
While all of the residents received relocation assistance, the building’s redevelopment is part of the local pattern of real estate investment opportunities fueling declining affordability.
The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness will coordinate approximately 1,000 volunteers on the last Friday of January to count unsheltered homeless people across King County.
Nearly everyone I’ve talked to expects this year’s numbers to climb above last year’s. The rising levels of unmet need are straining our shelter system and are visible on our streets.
It’s not that Seattle isn’t investing in shelter and human services. Our city’s commitment to reducing homelessness is one of the strongest in the nation. It’s that we are not an island.
Rising inequality means that unemployment, wage stagnation and economic insecurity are a continuing story for too many of us.
It means that investors are on the lookout for buildings they can rehab and flip for profit, and our region is a hot market for this kind of opportunity.
It means that ending homelessness can’t be separated from all the other social-justice movements that surround us.
During the past two months, I’ve participated in Mayor Ed Murray’s Emergency Taskforce on Unsheltered Homelessness. I’ve seen a mayor who is committed to new solutions. I’ve seen city staff members engaged and bringing their expertise to the table. I’ve seen the nonprofit and faith communities thinking creatively about how to do even more.
And yet, I expect that the crisis we face will get worse before it improves.
Real Change is a an essential resource for the movement-building that is so necessary for creating the change we need, and we are grateful for the community support that makes our work possible.
With two weeks left to the 2014 Winter Fund Drive, we have raised $63,171 of our critical $200,000 year-end goal.
We’ve been here before. Every year, the majority of our fund drive support happens in the final weeks of the drive. With each of you doing your part, we’ll reach our goal and more.
And we’ll be here for the long haul, improving the lives of our vendors and supporting the struggles of others in our community, one tough fight at a time.