Sophomores Address Seattle Homeless Crisis

Natalie Nowak, Staff Writer

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An issue that Seattle Prep sophomores have been attempting to improve for several years is the rising homelessness crisis in Seattle. In the United States, Seattle ranks third for the concentration of people experiencing homelessness on the streets, behind New York and Los Angeles. The city has stated that Seattle is in a “State of Emergency” for homelessness and Sophomores at Seattle Prep took initiative on Urban Plunge in October.

First it is important to look at what could be potential contributors to having such a high number of people experiencing homelessness in the greater Seattle area; there are two that seem to stick out.

One popular response to the reason for Seattle’s homelessness crisis is the addiction problems many Seattle residents deal with, causing a financial challenge for many. On Urban Plunge last year Meredith Lamb ‘20 visited the Matt Talbot Center and shares that the most impactful part of the retreat was, “learning about the control that drug addiction can have over someone from those who experienced it firsthand.”

Another contributor is Seattle rapidly growing high real estate prices and monthly rents. The problem in Seattle has been made obvious through government announcements, newspaper articles, and personally seeing many people sitting on street corners wrapped in blankets or sleeping in tents.

Seattle Prep Sophomores notice the issues and are making a grade wide attempt to help those in need and become more educational on the topic. The mandatory Sophomore retreat, urban plunge, which took place over the last five weeks is helping them to do so.

While Sophomores are on the retreat, they not only go out and volunteer in homeless shelters and other community organizations, but they are put into a simulated homeless situation as well.

At night, they go through a long process of trying to be allowed into the simulated shelter in the McHugh Gymnasium. They are turned away at the door several times before they can enter, just as many people living on the retreat experience in their daily struggle to find a place to sleep. Grear Boyd ‘21 describes his experience with the shelter as “eye opening to see what people have to go through every night.”

He also shares that, “I’m sure its significantly worse for people experiencing homelessness than what we experienced.”

On the second day, students are given two dollars each to buy a breakfast and lunch for themselves, putting into perspective the realistic challenge of finances for many people.

Mrs. Bernal, a leader of urban plunge, share that “we do the plunge because if we are truly serious about following Jesus, this is the most concrete way of doing so – helping those who are the most vulnerable among us.”

The point of urban plunge is not to be a onetime thing, but a start to a future of helping others; It also teaches students to be men and women for others but in a unique way it teaches empathy and how to be men and women with others as well.

The city of Seattle has many shelters for families, women, and men across the city, in an attempt to control and work toward fixing the homelessness crisis. One of these recent attempts is the new tiny home village in South Lake Union of the corner of 8th Ave North and Aloha St. The tiny home village of 22 homes, will be a low barrier housing community whose goal is to prepare the soon to be residence for permanent housing; (time line update). It is important to address these issues now to start improving for the future. Shelters and organizations are great ways to impact the crisis, but Meredith Lamb ‘20 shares a piece of advice for Seattle residence to keep in the back of their minds. “I think the best way to help homelessness is to start my acknowledging them. Always give them eye contact because they are people too.”

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