Homelessness on Orcas looks different than in urban areas. Many rural homeless individuals live in places we do not see. They may be in the woods on private property, cars, sheds, tents and other places not intended for permanent habitation. Many live in substandard housing or RVs without adequate heat, water or septic. On Orcas, like other rural locations, the greatest concern is poor housing quality.
In addition, housing pressures and the seasonal nature of work leads many into a cycle of homelessness, often disproportionately affecting children and families. Many of the individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness work, but at very low-wage jobs.
Prevention is the most cost-effective way to address homelessness. This means, in addition to increasing the supply of available homes, providing support services, rental or utility subsidies and connection to healthcare for those at risk of becoming one of the “Hidden Homeless” on Orcas.
For those living in these substandard situations, the planned Day Center at the Community Resource Center on the Pea Patch Property will help provide access to hygiene, cooking facilities, water and, most importantly, knowledgeable staff to assist with resources.
A recent Point-In-Time count on Orcas, conducted in January, revealed the following:
|Number of People Experiencing Homelessness||19|
|Number of People At-Risk of Becoming Homeless||28|
|Number of People Lacking Basic Amenities||29|
|Without Drinking Water||5|
|Without a Restroom||6|
|Without Cooking Facilities||3|
|Without Bathing Facilities||6|
-Written by Heather Stansbury