Homelessness in Puyallup has brought new challenges during Covid-19. While many homeless services are no longer working at full capacity, these services continue to find new support and additional ways to provide.
Amongst fears of Covid-19, volunteer numbers have dropped within homeless services. This has impacted agencies such as Tacoma Rescue Mission, a nonprofit organization that provides services such as housing, meals, and clothing to those in need.
“We have thousands of volunteers that serve the rescue mission every year and so we really rely on that, we went from thousands to fifteen,” said Duke Paulson, the executive director of Tacoma Rescue Mission.
According to the New Hope Resource Center’s executive director, Paula Anderson, they suffered a loss of 75% to 80% of volunteers but even without being there in person, people still found ways to give.
“We have been super blessed with additional donations, ” said Anderson, “I attribute that to a community that cares even though they can’t be there physically.”
For individuals, funds have dwindled meaning more people look to Dec. 31 when the eviction moratorium is lifted. An estimated 30 to 40 million American renters could be at risk of eviction, according to the Aspen Institute.
To provide for the need in shelter, Tacoma Rescue plans on expanding its capacity. Because of Covid-19, the shelter, at max, can hold 90 people. Partnering with Holy Rosary and Bellarmine Preparatory School, Tacoma Rescue should be put at their usual max capacity.
“We need to do managed campsites, we need to do tiny homes, we need to do more shelter space, we need to have permanent supportive housing,” said Anderson.
Housing opportunities can be found on the Pierce College website along with services like transportation and child care. The Department of Social and Health Services just announced that those previously denied food benefits because they were a student who was not employed at least 20 hours per week or not enrolled in work-study can now qualify for food benefits.
New Hope is providing for those experiencing homelessness via their Mobile Resources Response Team. New Hope’s MRRT can provide services like showers, prescriptions and laundry, services that could take weeks but can now be done in a couple of hours.
“There’s a lot of things that we’re going to be able to provide with this mobile unit that will help people in that moment,” said Anderson.
New Hope doesn’t have housing, so their main goal is to feed people and connect them with other service providers. With their MRRT, they can more easily put people into the Homeless Management Information System which is required to qualify for other programs.
Not one team can provide for every need someone has which is why services must partner together to provide for the community. Paulson stated that he enjoys finding creative partnerships because services must come together to help and though services might not be at their full potential it’s impressive to see how they hold up.
“We listen to people, we learn their story because that’s the only way you’re going to figure out what exactly this one person needs,” said Anderson.
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