Homelessness in Pierce County on the rise

According to the Pierce County Homelessness Point-in-Time report, the area has approximately 1,762 homeless people in its vicinity, and the numbers continue to increase every year.

Tess Colby, the housing, homelessness and community development manager for Pierce County Community Connections, told the News Tribune that “homelessness is definitely increasing. It is, in my opinion, a crisis in our community.”

Although there are many efforts to make sure the homeless are well taken care of — these past few months mark the way for major setbacks.

In a News Tribune article written by John Gillie, churches and groups who attempt to house homeless people overnight during the cold for their Freezing Nights program are struggling.

“Paula Anderson, director of Puyallup’s New Hope Resource Center, said the center is scrambling to meet its monthly $7,800 expenses budget. Some donations have disappeared and two churches that previously shared the task of providing evening meals and overnight accommodations for up to 80 homeless people nightly have quit the program after more than a dozen years,” reported Gillie.

Those two churches dropping out leave seven days a month empty for their Freezing Night’s program. This leaves homeless people in Puyallup with nowhere to stay warm during the nighttime. Each night houses between 50-80 people.

The setbacks in taking care of the community’s homeless has only made the efforts stronger. There are still coalitions and programs designated in fighting for those who have no homes. Pierce County offers many different resources for homeless people in the county.

The Freezing Night’s program is still up and running for the rest of their months. With 10 churches still participating in the program, homeless people can find shelter for the majority of their month.

The coordinated entry program offered by Pierce County was completely changed in January of 2016 to accommodate for a higher percentage of the homeless. The Pierce County site says, “We have implemented new screening procedures and have begun providing expanded problem solving and housing counseling services to people who enroll in coordinated entry or stay at emergency shelters.”