For the last six years I’ve served on the board, including two terms as board president, of ROOTS, a young adult homeless shelter in the University District. It’s been a blast – not least because unlike a lot of social service groups providing essential front line human services, ROOTS is largely staffed by volunteers, most of them the same age as our guests, and because we really do try hard to have a space that’s owned by and run in the interests of the people we help.
During my time at ROOTS, we’ve expanded from 27 to 45 beds a night and added a number of different ancillary services (lockers, new showers, a computer room, case workers, etc.). But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the rapidly expanding need. The “recovery” from the Great Recession has never reached young adults, who continue to face high unemployment, low wages (hence my strong support for Kshama Sawant and the $15/hour minimum wage laws), and an utterly insanely expensive rental market that even I can’t afford. In year 6,892 of the absurdly named “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness,” which has been all about moving money from shelter services to creating permanent transitional and affordable housing opportunities, shelter funding is more fragile and overstretched than ever.
All that is context for ROOTS’ second annual “Rise Up for Homeless Youth” luncheon, to be held next Tuesday, November 4 (Election Day!), at the North Ballroom of UW’s HUB student union building. I’ll be hosting a table – please join me! To register and for more info, go here. Or go here if you just want to donate to an incredibly worthy cause – only $29 will keep someone fed and off the street for a night this winter. And every bit helps.
I don’t hit my friends and readers up to donate to good causes often – there are so many of them, and everyone has the ones close to their heart. This one is close to mine. In a few months I term-limit off of the ROOTS board, and as a parting gift to the organization I’d love to introduce a new generation of people to the amazing work it does. Thanks for reading!