Filling a need: The City of Auburn and nonprofit partners have opened the ‘Ray of Hope’ center on a lot Valley Cities has donated temporarily at 2536 I St. NE. l. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

‘Ray of Hope’: City, partners open homeless shelter

Providing more shelter for homeless people in Auburn was the top action item to come out of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness when it finished its work in April 2016.

The City of Auburn seized that recommendation, and ran with it.

Last Monday, in partnership with Valley Cities and the Auburn Food Bank, the City opened the “Ray of Hope” center on a lot Valley Cities has donated temporarily at 2536 I St. NE.

“We have waited for ‘someone’ for a very long time who has felt that ‘they’ should get a day center started for our homeless population,” said Debbie Christian, director of the Auburn Food Bank. “We have no idea who this ‘someone or they’ are that everyone talks about – but we finally decided if ‘someone’ wasn’t going to make it happen – perhaps we would.”

The food bank is providing staff, food and resource connections for the day-sheltering operation, and Puget Sound Energy is providing power. Valley Cities will not only provide the use of its Common Building to provide nighttime services beginning sometime in October, but it has also reallocated its outreach worker staff to support shelter clients.

The center is to remain open for a year and a half while the City works with agencies, private funders and regional partners to create more housing and affordable housing options in Auburn. Meanwhile, the City will continue to work closely with its regional partners to find stable, permanent housing for the homeless in Auburn.

Critical for homeless folk who are trying to get back on their feet, get a job, find permanent housing, they can step out of the center and see WorkSource and the Department of Social and Health Services directly across the street.

“People coming through have been glad; they feel like maybe there’s someone or something that’s going be able to help them move forward,” Christian said. “We tell them that, even though it’s open, it’s going to be a slow process. You almost need several months of a job behind you before you can get into housing.

“If we can give them hope for finding a way out of their current lifestyle,” Christian continued, “that’s a huge benefit for them, that ‘maybe something can happen for me.’ And that’s one of the things we hear a lot, even just in families coming to the food bank: that sometimes you can be so far down, you don’t even have hope left.”

Dana Hinman, administrative director for the City of Auburn, said the effort energized a wide swath of City staff, who had conversations with Catholic Community Services and WorkSource about the operational plan to provide not only sheltering but wrap-around services at the site.

“It’s essentially answering an outcry from the community that our homeless population needs some sort of resource to be able to be lifted out of their current condition,” Hinman said. “The partnership with Valley Cities and the Auburn Food Bank – two of our most expert nonprofits – in working with our homeless population was just a perfect marriage of government and nonprofit.”

While the shelter should be able to handle 35 occupants at a time, in the first week it saw a total of 18 people. The operating days are Monday to Friday, but the City intends to expand the times to seven days a week.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness was composed of community leaders, police and fire, the school district, service providers, residents, members of the faith community, police and fire, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, business owners and key City staff. The task force sought to better understand the scope and causes of homelessness in Auburn, the systems in place to address homelessness and considered the range of concerns and ideas the community identified.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

April free state park days postponed

A date has not been set, though two more free days are approaching in June.

King County and Public Health have turned a former Econo Lodge motel into an emergency isolation/quarantine facility on Central Avenue in Kent. File photo
King County reports 27 coronavirus cases in homeless shelters

County has provided 60 motel vouchers so far for quarantining homeless individuals.

King County’s North Seattle isolation and quarantine site on April 8. The North Seattle/Aurora facility is located at 1132 N 128th St. in Seattle. It features six modular units with a total capacity of 23 people. Corey Morris/staff photo
King County facilities readying for COVID-19 peak

Facilities are located throughout the county to assist patients with varying levels of support.

VRFA fire and rescue blotter | April 8

A sampling of 233 calls March 30-April 5

Auburn School District superintendent releases message about school closure

‘I am saddened by this news,’ Alan Spicciati says

COVID-19 deaths reach 10 in Kent; 7 in Renton; 5 in Enumclaw

Latest South County results from Public Health—Seattle King County

First WA state prisoner tests positive for COVID-19

The man is the first person in Washington to contract the disease while in a state prison.

Kent man faces murder charge in Renton shooting

Victim shot March 10 in parked car

Sewing up solutions: South King firefighter designs prototype for protective gown shortage

Despite the department’s success with a one-man team, South King Fire is looking for the community’s help to sew gowns for first responders.

Most Read