Opinion

Working to break the cycle of homelessness | In Our Opinion

Determining just how many members of our community are homeless is difficult, but we know the evidence is not merely anecdotal.

In federally-required surveys conducted by the North Kitsap School District, 156 students identified themselves as being homeless — “homeless” is defined by the federal government as lacking “a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” Add family members and the number grows. (Statewide, 30,609 students were counted as homeless, an increase for the sixth year in a row).

In addition, North Kitsap Fishline, ShareNet and the Kingston Food Bank have adult clients that identify as homeless. Undoubtedly, the number of people who lack “a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” is in the hundreds in North Kitsap. (As of this writing, Kingston Food Bank’s clients include seven individuals who are homeless, including a family of three.)

A new organization, Kingston Cares About Homelessness, is working to open a severe-weather shelter in Kingston, so individuals and families that may be enduring some tough circumstances have a safe place for the night when nighttime temperatures are freezing and below. And several community organizations want to open a Coffee Oasis — which operates a youth shelter, outreach centers and job-training programs in Bremerton, Poulsbo and Port Orchard — in Kingston, to help lift young people out of homelessness.

Both efforts would strengthen the local safety net and help build a healthier community. Barb Fulton of the Kingston Food Bank has talked to several former clients who, once homeless, are now employed and in homes of their own. The safety net helped them get back on their feet. At Fishline, several former clients now volunteer at the agency.

A series of forums on the topic of homelessness is under way. We encourage you to participate. The first forum was on March 20. Future forums are scheduled for April 10 and May 1, 6:30 p.m., at Kingston Middle School. Participants are discussing the need for a Coffee Oasis in Kingston.

These community forums are a project of Leadership Kitsap Class of 2014 and are sponsored by the Kingston Rotary Club, the Greater Kingston Kiwanis Club, and the Kitsap Community Foundation.

All forums are catered by The Coffee Oasis with light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments. RSVP to  coffeeoasiskingston@gmail.com. Additional information is available on Facebook.

COFFEE OASIS FORUMS

April 10, 6:30 p.m., Kingston Middle School, 9000 NE West Kingston Road, Kingston.
May 1, 6:30 p.m., Kingston Middle School, 9000 NE West Kingston Road, Kingston.

 

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