Unhoused people face so many challenges: from lack of stability to constant fear and safety issues, as well as the associated stigma. Personal possessions or medications are often stolen while homeless people sleep, and this can exacerbate mental health problems or other medical issues. Violence at night is also a frequent problem, which is why many homeless people sleep during the day when it’s safer for them.
Currently, Wenatchee’s vacancy rate is less than 1% - that means few open rentals and stiff competition for available units. New residents moving to the area drive up housing costs and make the housing situation especially difficult for low-income and homeless individuals trying to secure rental housing.
It’s easy to think homelessness is “not my problem.” We take for granted having a stable shelter and all of the benefits that come with knowing where you’ll sleep at night. The average person may experience major barriers to finding a place to live: unit availability, monthly rent, security deposits, difficult landlords...the list goes on. For someone struggling with homelessness, these challenges can seem almost impossible to overcome.
Housing programs at Catholic Charities are committed to making homelessness their problem. Staff in our housing programs care deeply about the clients they serve, and they dedicate their careers to those experiencing homelessness so they can make Wenatchee a better place for everyone.
Catholic Charities provides subsidies and case managers to help people experiencing homelessness find and remain in a stable living place. Their programs help make people looking for housing more attractive to property owners, by:
- Helping find housing
- Helping with rent payments and guaranteeing payments
- Working with landlords to resolve issues with clients
- Teaching clients how to be good neighbors and tenants
Staff in the housing programs at Catholic Charities love to share success stories. After getting help finding a home and working with a case manager, many clients are able to rejoin the workforce and in some cases become certified peer counselors themselves. These counselors work with the homeless population, offer support, and bring a unique perspective to their work since they know exactly what clients are going through.
Shawn DeLancy, Associate Director for Transitional Health at Catholic Charities, has worked in community homelessness since 2008, and he has known a client since his first year on the job. Recently, he heard from a law enforcement officer that this client hadn’t been in trouble with the law in a while. Stable housing allows people to get their lives together and become a more productive member of society.
With the end of the COVID-19 eviction moratorium, many landlords are expected to raise rents and be more selective about new tenants. In addition, those who were unable to pay rent during the moratorium will have a backlog of debt to pay. Catholic Charities expects the number of clients using their programs to increase because of these circumstances.
Fortunately, the City of Wenatchee is researching ways to reduce barriers to building additional low-income housing units. It will take a lot of work and time, but there is hope. Hope can be difficult for homeless people to have, so Catholic Charities is often able to be the one to hold hope for their clients until they’re able to hope on their own.
Learn more about our homeless transitional housing program or contact us for more information at https://catholiccharitiescw.org/services/counseling-and-behavioralhealth/transitional-housing-in-wenatchee.