We will soon post an Infomercial on Facebook. Here is the transcript:
Question: What problem is The Clean Project trying to solve?
The Clean Project partners with established organizations in an effort to severely reduce, if not eliminate homelessness in Kitsap County. While homelessness is seen all over Seattle, many people living in Kitsap County don’t realize that we have a similar problem here. We don’t see it as much because our beautiful trees tend to cover up those living outdoors, and many people experiencing homelessness are “couch surfing”, meaning they are temporarily living with a series of friends and relatives.
If we don’t see the problem, we don’t think about it, even though people experiencing homelessness are all over our county.
Question: What are the major causes of homelessness?
That’s a very good question, because the first step in eliminating homelessness is to understand the underlying causes. Among other things, homelessness is caused by substance abuse disorders and mental health illness. Another major cause of homelessness is being unemployed. Many of our homeless, are veterans.
Question: How can these causes of homelessness be turned-around?
Let’s talk first about substance abuse disorders. No matter how an individual became substance abusive, once there, street drug strength and content is uncontrolled. This often leads to overdoses, and sometimes death. When certain street drugs are over-used, the human brain becomes dependent on them. In many, maybe even most cases, the individual is unable to function normally without that “fix”.
One of the most effective tools available to help bring people out of a substance abuse is a program called “Medication-Assisted Treatment” (MAT). It replaces addictive street drugs with an FDA-approved medication that, in most cases, must be taken for the rest of that person’s life.
Mental health illness may come in various forms, and is often better controlled through medication. Individuals with either or both mental health illness and substance abuse disorders respond well to counseling. One of our partner organizations provides the MAT program and counseling.
As I said earlier, lack of employment is another major cause of homelessness. With the introduction of the COVID-19 virus, many of our local businesses have been severely restricted, or closed, some permanently. While we don’t have actual numbers, this has almost certainly caused homelessness to increase in our county. One of the organizations that we partner with provides job training and assistance with job placement, and itself partners with WorkSource Washington.
Question: If we know the major causes of homelessness, and how to overcome those causes, why do you think there is still a homeless problem in this county?
The organizations that help people experiencing homelessness in Kitsap County are overwhelmed by the scope of the problem. They need help in two major areas, volunteerism, and funding.
Let’s talk first about volunteering. There is an old saying, “Many hands make light work”. The leaders of the organizations that I partner with very often tell me that they are overwhelmed by the workload. If you are able and willing to volunteer with any of these organizations, they would be very grateful! Go to the Volunteering page on our website and see the type of help they need. Click on the link to that organization, and sign up to help! We also hope to soon have a page devoted to material items needed by these organizations.
The second way you can help is to donate money. A large percentage of operating funds for many of these organizations comes from public grants. It takes time, effort, and money to write a grant proposal. Wouldn’t it be great if these organizations received enough donations that they wouldn’t need to apply for public grants! You can be part of that dream!
Question: Why did you start The Clean Project, and how do you believe it can help established organizations eliminate homelessness in Kitsap County?
Until March of 2019, I had no idea there actually was a way to help individuals overcome substance abuse disorders. If I didn’t know that, even though I pay attention to the TV and radio news, there is a very good chance that many others do not know that either. Therefore, The Clean Project is embarking on a campaign to see that the citizens of Kitsap County are made aware of this, and that they know a strong, steady stream of volunteers and donations going to these organizations will make the difference in restoring the lives of those experiencing homelessness.
There is one other way The Clean Project is helping these organizations. Along with volunteering and funding, another big problem to overcome is housing. The Clean Project is in the process of attempting to bring in an organization that currently operates outside of Kitsap County, but is very interested in joining forces with an established housing organization here. If successful, this would expand the availability of low-income housing for those experiencing homelessness.
Question: Is there a widely accepted method to help people out of their homelessness?
Yes there is. The method is called “Supportive Housing”, and is on our logo. Supportive Housing is being used very successfully across the country. The first step in this process is to move people into some form of housing, possibly even a shelter that never closes. The second step is to offer support, or wrap-around services. This could include health issues, including mental health and/or substance abuse. Substance abuse recovery almost always requires the person to be housed, then introducing this person to the MAT program that I explained earlier. Other support services are offered, eventually leading to gainful employment and a paycheck to cover their own housing and other expenses.
Question: You said the first step in Supportive Housing is the housing aspect. Why is housing so crucial?
Maybe the best way to explain that is what often happens when homeless inmates who are on the MAT program are released from jail or prison. If the only place for them to go is back out on the street, they often navigate back to the spot they know the best, where their friends are, and where drug dealers can find them. This creates a revolving door of substance abuse, criminal activity to pay for their drugs, arrest, incarceration, release, and substance abuse. For that reason alone, housing availability is crucial to solving health and other problems.
Question: How many homeless individuals are there in Kitsap County? What about people with substance abuse and mental health illness problems?
Probably the best way to answer that question is to look at what is called the “Point in Time” count. This is a nationwide survey that every year gathers information for a specific 24-hour period near the end of January. Kitsap County employees are responsible for collecting that information within our County, and making it available on the County website. It’s important to know that participation in the survey by those experiencing homelessness is voluntary, and the survey relies on volunteers finding people experiencing homelessness. Therefore, this is considered to be an under-count of the actual numbers. However, since this survey is done at the same day every year, it does show trends. A fairly large number of questions are asked of each participant, but let’s narrow this down to the information that will answer your question.
According to the 2020 Point in Time count, there were a total of 533 people experiencing homelessness in Kitsap County, of which, 199 were unsheltered. This is a 64% increase from 2012, which is the first year these numbers are available from the County. There was also an 11.5% increase from 2019. I don’t have any numbers for 2020 since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but I would imagine these numbers have probably increased considerably.
Now let’s look at the substance abuse and mental health numbers. Of those who responded, about 25% admitted to having challenges with substance abuse, and a whopping 50% said they had mental health issues. The numbers correlate with why these people say they are homeless. About 25% place the blame on substance abuse, and 50% on mental health illness-based problems.
Question: If someone called today needing help, what would you be able to offer?
If someone needing help hears this message or is told about our organization, the best thing they can do is to check the “Need Help?” page on our website. There are phone numbers and web links to help people find what they need. This very long list that includes such things as:
- Locating or keeping shelter
- Healthcare, including programs for behavioral issues, dental services, and medications
- Job search/Job training/Career coaching
- Utility and weatherization help
- Programs for Veterans
This is only a partial list. If you find yourself needing help, please go to that page and find the help you need!
Question: What is the benefit of donating through The Clean Project?
The Clean Project allows people to donate to multiple organizations that are helping people experiencing homelessness in Kitsap County. 85% of donations go to the organizations that we partner with. 10% of donations cover the record-keeping and administrative costs, including IRS requirements. The remaining 5% covers The Clean Project expenses, and allows us to continue operating. The homeless organizations we partner with do not handle any of the detailed record-keeping, but you still get your full income tax deduction. As donated funds reach the homeless organizations, they can be used immediately. No donation is too small. If you are able, please select the “Recurring Donation” option.
This is also a single location for homeless people to know who to contact for various needs, and for everyone to find out how those experiencing homelessness in Kitsap County are being helped. Our website is also a way for anyone to make suggestions, and of being heard! Remember, we have a direct line of communication to the organizations that we partner with!
Question: Where can people donate?
There are links to the donation page throughout our website. Donations can be made online, or by check. All the details are found on the donation page of our website.
Question: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes there is. If you want to play a part in seeing homeless numbers dramatically reduced in Kitsap County, please donate your time and/or money, and tell others of our website, which is:
As we all know, word of mouth is the very best advertising!
Also, The Clean Project is establishing two-way communication with the citizens of Kitsap County. We want to hear your ideas! If you have a great suggestion please send us an email.
There must be some really good ideas out there, and this is the forum to get that out!
Let me close by giving every one of you a big THANK YOU for staying with us through the entire discussion!