Supporting the Homeless

Northlake has worked to end homelessness for over 10 years. Members have donated socks, hygiene products, paper plates, and food for Thanksgiving meals. We’ve cooked and served meals with Attain Housing. We’ve contributed tens of thousands of dollars to local agencies serving the homeless through our Share the Plate program. Then we decided to get truly hands-on, and we built a Tiny House. And in fall of 2018, our work came even closer to home. We offered a safe, dry, welcoming space to homeless families by hosting an overnight shelter in our sanctuary.

 

Tiny House Project – The House That Love Built

In March of 2018, the Social Justice Committee proposed that Northlake build a Tiny House. This is a 100 square foot home that offers a tremendous benefit over tents – they are safe, weatherproof, and lockable. Each tiny house has electricity, overhead light and a heater. After they are built, a Tiny House can be moved to a tiny house village, which has kitchen and restroom facilities, onsite showers and laundry, a counseling office, and a welcome/security hut where donations of food, clothing, and hygiene items can be dropped off.

Funds were raised via June’s Share the Plate and donations. Preparation started in July. The tiny house was built in our parking lot by Northlake members and friends, under the supervision of our own John P. People of all ages participated, both those with building experience and many with none. Others provided tasty snack and drinks to cool off on hot summer days. It was exciting to see how quickly we could create a home that would have a lasting impact on homeless people in Seattle.

Hosting the Overnight Shelter for Women and Children

Fran picked up her phone. “Hello?” It is 8:20 on a Wednesday morning in late August.

“Hi. This is Bill H. at Catholic Community Services. I got your name from someone you’ve worked with on the Kirkland Interfaith Network. I’m calling about the Overnight Shelter for Women and Children. The church that is scheduled to host the shelter in September can’t do it and our back-up church can’t either. Can Northlake shelter about 30-35 women and children from 8:30 pm to 7:00 am, September 7 – 30?”

Northlake’s Social Justice Team sponsored the proposal to the Board of Trustees. The Rentals Team went to work reviewing impact to rentals and campus use, reporting their support to the Board. Staff considered impact to the daily functioning of Northlake. The Board, viewing the bigger picture, considered questions about safety, impact on long-term renters, scheduled activities and whether or not hosting the shelter supports Northlake’s mission. Input was sought from the congregation. More questions were asked and answered. By Wednesday, just one week from the day the request was first made, the Board approved hosting the shelter in our sanctuary during September.

The Eastside Emergency Shelter, overseen by Catholic Community Services of King County (CCSKC) provides sleeping space for homeless women and families with children under 17. They serve up to 50 people each night. The shelter is open nightly 8:30 pm to 7:00 am. Each guest is offered dinner and breakfast, which are brought in by community groups. A case manager visits once a week to make sure families get assistance in looking for housing and resources. Residents of the shelter can go to the New Bethlehem Day Center in Kirkland during the days to get food, laundry, showers and more extensive services.