On Aug. 12, Real Change received a long-awaited shipment. Staff and volunteers carried box after box into the workroom and began unpacking 50,000 brand new, bright green copies of the fourth edition of the Emerald City Resource Guide. It’s been over two years since Real Change last produced a print copy of the resource guide. Excitement about finishing the book and getting it into the hands of people who can use it has filled the Real Change offices for weeks.
Through a team made up of staff members, volunteers and sponsors, we not only produce a physical version of the guide to hand out but also maintain a web portal that is continually updated with new resources. The guide lists services specifically for people experiencing homelessness and severe poverty, such as health care, shelters and meals. It also features sections for LGBTQ+ resources, culturally specific services and assistance with immigration issues. Organizations are listed by their primary service so the guide is easy to follow.
The primary way people interact with the resource guide is in its print form. At around 4-by-6 inches, the Emerald City Resource Guide fits in a pocket and can be easily rifled through. When agencies move their information online, it becomes out of reach to those without reliable access to the internet. A printed guidebook connects our community to resources regardless of the technology available.
Our vision for the Emerald City Resource Guide focuses on putting the power of change in people’s hands. As someone flips through the guidebook looking for shelter, maybe they’ll pass an entry on drug treatment services or a job readiness program and inspiration will spark.
The 50,000 guides will be distributed through a network of over 200 partners, including mutual aid groups, local homeless service providers, bus drivers, first responders, libraries and many more. In addition, Real Change vendors will leverage the strength of their personal networks in distributing the guide. We know that our community learns about resources through word-of-mouth, and this peer-to-peer network will get the guidebook into the hands of those who need it most.
During the pandemic, access to technology has at times become alarmingly scarce. Places that folks surviving outside depended on, like libraries, day shelters and even the Real Change offices for a time, were closed or had time restrictions, so there was very limited ability to charge electronic devices or use computer labs. The print copy of the Emerald City Resource Guide is needed now more than ever. Real Change believes online access should not be a barrier to receiving critical services.
With so many changes due to the pandemic, Real Change waited to print the fourth edition of the guide to allow organizations to settle into their new operations. COVID-19-specific changes are listed, so people know what to expect when walking into a new environment. We also built up our comprehensive web portal this last year, thanks to our amazing volunteers. Feedback from case managers revealed that an easily searchable web version of the guide would help them to more quickly make referrals and keep agency listings more up-to-date between printings.
The expansion of the resource guide’s online portal meant, however, that our first draft of the fourth edition had more than double the page count of the third edition. Part of the usefulness of the guide is its portability, and a 300-page guide doesn’t fit in any pocket. So, we had to make strategic decisions on which resources to put in print. Staff and volunteers went through the whole database and cut out duplicative entries, reorganized sections and considered carefully which resources were the most needed for those surviving outside. As wonderful as it is that so many resources exist in our community, we eventually brought the guide down to just 168 pages — still a hefty increase from the 2019 printing.
The fourth edition of the Emerald City Resource Guide became available Friday, Aug. 13. Anyone interested can get a copy at the Real Change offices. Interested agencies can reserve copies by visiting http://emeraldcityresourceguide.org.
fourth edition of the guidebook
was made possible by support from sponsorships and grants from organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Recovery Café, Solid Ground Washington, West Seattle Food Bank, Compass Housing Alliance, Evergreen Treatment Services, United Health Care, The Simon Family Charitable Trust and NOVA Foundation, University District Food Bank, Good Neighbor Fund, DESC, Uplift NW and Pioneer Human Services.
To see the full list of resources, check out http://
Read more of the Aug. 18-24, 2021 issue.