When I started down this road in March 2019, the plan was to begin in Seattle with the financial backing of businesses that were themselves victims of the problems that often accompany opioid addiction. Even though the opioid addiction and homeless situation in Seattle is far worse than in Kitsap County, I could not get any traction there. The feedback I experienced from these businesses is probably best exemplified in a letter I received from a well-known Seattle-based company that has dozens of retail outlets. The response was written on official letter-head. This is the exact wording of the entire letter, with the company name, and name of the writer withheld.
Ed Reyman June 11, 2019
Thank you for taking the time to address your concerns in regards to crime in Seattle. You have put a lot of thought into your plan. It’s flattering to know we were thought of as a possible sponsor.
To be frank, Company Name Withheld prefers to stay out of politics and continue to spread awareness on the nature of the violent crimes our city is facing. We appreciate any effort you make to improve the situation in Seattle and wish you the very best as you move forward.
CEO and President
Eventually, I moved my efforts closer to home, Kitsap County. There was a large event taking place at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. As my wife and I were leaving the event, we stopped at the Sheriff’s Booth and discussed the opioid/homeless problem in the county with a couple of Deputies. That led me to meeting with two Kitsap County Department heads. From them I learned about a Navigation Center being planned for the County. The project needed additional funding before it could move forward. An informational meeting about the Center was held toward the end of 2019. My desire was (and still is) to help collect funds for the project through a non-profit organization, and also do what I could to help people experiencing homelessness get on their feet. Afterwards, the Department Head leading the meeting walked up to me and said, “I hope you get that non-profit off the ground soon.”.
Well, it has taken a great deal of time to clear the hurdles, but the non-profit is finally here! In 2020, COVID-19 really changed the homeless landscape! The Navigation Center is currently on hold, but the need continues for immediate housing of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, supportive services, and permanent housing. With so many people losing their jobs, and the problems that the Employment Security Department experienced early on, the need has grown! The State is beginning to open up, and some of the pressure is being relieved. That is great, but the original homeless problem still exists.
If you have seen the list of organizations we help, you may be wondering, “Why is _______ not on the list?”. We are working toward adding more organizations who help the homeless to our list. Some organizations are watching to see what we do, and may decide to join us later. Others want to join our efforts but require additional authorization. Are you in a leadership position, or work for an organization that directly helps those experiencing homelessness in Kitsap County? Please contact us! We want to work with you. Keep watching, as the list of who we work with is expected to grow!
Let me take this opportunity to talk about Supportive Housing. Supportive housing does NOT mean moving homeless encampments from location to location, as is often done in Seattle. It DOES mean moving individuals and families experiencing homelessness to some type of housing in order to provide them with the specific “wrap-around” services that they need. Look at our logo. The two arms held tightly together symbolize what The Clean Project is all about: Someone in a better position in life reaching down to a person who needs help up. Both hands are tightly clasped to the arm of the other, symbolizing the willingness of people to help someone up, and the desire of others to accept that help. The goal is to return the person reaching up to mainstream society where they can be a productive citizen. That is what most of those experiencing homelessness want, but are unable to do on their own.
At The Clean Project, we believe that when the citizens of Kitsap County know there is a coordinated effort to help the homeless get on their feet, they will provide the funds needed to make that happen! As an individual, you can donate to our effort. As a business or corporation, this would be a way to give back. Regardless of who you are, you can be instrumental in helping the less fortunate living in Kitsap County overcome whatever is keeping them down. Please help us help the organizations in our county who are reaching down to bring others up to become the happy, productive people they want to be!