Homelessness: Whidbey Island can do better

Editor,

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, Sno-Isle Libraries sponsored a discussion on “Homelessness Here” as part of their Issues that Matter series. Representatives from Island County Housing Support Center, Whidbey Homeless Coalition, Ryan’s House for Youth and Spin Café were the panelists. At the end we had a few minutes for questions. A woman in the audience asked why a church on North Whidbey hasn’t opened their doors as a shelter yet. Good question.

In Oak Harbor we’ve seen homeless persons on our streets for some time and the situation looks like it is getting worse. Just recently, though, we began to see some hard facts about homelessness from the Island County Housing Support Center, which opened its doors last August. From Aug. 8 through Dec. 31, 2016, the support center registered 285 households — a household is defined as a family, two adults that live together, or a single adult. Of the 285 households, the county was able to find housing for eight (yes, that is just eight households) and referred 102 to other supportive services such as the Opportunity Council. That leaves 175 households on the county’s “housing interest list” of which 63 are households with children.

We have a crisis on Whidbey. In spite of apathy, a not-in-my-backyard attitude, and those who think we are attracting the homeless with services, Whidbey Homeless Coalition came forward with a plan, The Haven. Part of that plan is asking local churches in Oak Harbor (as in Langley) to open their doors as temporary shelters. We are hoping this will happen soon, but it isn’t enough.

Please plan to attend the next Community Conversation on Homelessness on Feb. 7, 1 p.m. at the Oak Harbor First United Methodist Church. If you don’t have the time, you can donate money to the volunteer group, Whidbey Homeless Coalition, the non-profit organization working as fast and as effectively as they can to help North Whidbey open a shelter. Yes, it is only a Band-Aid to the larger issue of why we have homelessness, but I know we, as a community, can do better than this.

MARY WILLIFORD

Oak Harbor

More in Letters to the Editor

See if Langley joins carbon initiative Dec. 18

Editor, Let’s hear it for the City of Langley for they’ve consented… Continue reading

Need to lobby legislators to keep net neutrality

Editor, Ready to send more money to your Internet service provider (ISP)?… Continue reading

Enjoyed Island Transit’s birthday celebration

Editor, I want to thank Island Transit for sharing its birthday celebration… Continue reading

Americans must show Trump that he’s wrong

Editor, It was Maya Angelou who once told us, “When someone shows… Continue reading

Happy to be back and serving the community

Editor, To our island community and beyond: Thank you! Thank you! Thank… Continue reading

South Whidbey does in fact have a public pool

Editor, I take exception to your claim that South Whidbey has no… Continue reading

Inclusive city decision far from transparent

Editor, Quite opposite to The South Whidbey Record’s front page headline on… Continue reading

Students can learn from recent South Whidbey Record article

Editor, I’m writing in response to the South Whidbey Record article Saturday… Continue reading

Great items to be found at local church bazaars

Editor, Thanks so much to the churches that donate their love and… Continue reading

Don’t eliminate parking spots for wider sidewalks

Editor, Regarding the parking in Langley, I was quite surprised to read… Continue reading

Hold contractors and home services companies accountable

Editor, This is an open letter to the many local contractors and… Continue reading

Gun reform is needed in America

Editor, Anticipating a reaction to The Record’s Nov. 8 editorial advocating a… Continue reading