We Can No Longer Close Our Eyes to Seattle’s Growing Homeless Population

In January we launched the Tech Coalition to End Homelessness.  Our mission is to bring techies close to the homelessness experience so that as we create new solutions we can reach out to our greater networks of employees, employers, friends and members to collectively make a bigger difference together.

As President of Union Gospel Mission Jeff Lilley says, “Homelessness isn’t a resource problem, it’s a relationship problem.” The more people on the street feel that others care about their situation and support them in getting back on their feet, the closer we are to helping those who want help.

FullSizeRenderMonday morning, as part of King5’s day of looking at Seattle’s epidemic of homeless, I was interviewed about how we’re working on solutions as a tech community. Seattle is America’s 18th largest city but has the 3rd largest population of people living without shelter. That’s not right. So we’re doing our part to make our great city even greater.

You may think of homeless people as mostly being addicts, but many of these people are on the streets due to medical bills, domestic violence, losing their jobs and other unexpected life circumstances.  They didn’t have friends and family to support them when bad things happened and they ended up on the street.

Many of them still work part time or full time, but can’t afford Seattle’s rising rents and costs of living. Some live in RVs, cars or semi-permanent shelter.  The problem is varied and widespread so we’re looking at the simple actions we can take to make a difference when and where we can.

Last night we went on our third Search and Rescue outing with leaders in the tech community. We’ve now had leaders join us from GeneralUI, Moz, WTIA, EveryHome, AllHome, Seattle University, City of Seattle, INRIX, Facebook, Culture Foundry, Amazon, and many other organizations.

As we visited parts of the city like the infamous jungle that most residents never see, we gave food, clothing and other essentials to people living on our streets. They shared their stories which ranged from an older man living in an RV near his two part time jobs who is doing chemotherapy to a woman who had rough job and relationship histories that left her feeling that it’s easier to cope with life living on the streets.

I’m grateful that our compassionate tech community is looking at how we can add our heads, hearts and hands to solutions for people who need support to get off the streets and back to their lives.

If you would like to learn about initiatives and actions we create please join our mailing list.

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