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Seattle and the surrounding region face an unprecedented homelessness crisis. Thousands of our neighbors have been pushed beyond the brink and are living in their cars, shelters, tents and park benches. The conversations about solutions have kicked up a disconcerting debate in our city – one that doesn’t match the Seattle I grew up in and the compassion I know exists in the hearts of the people who call our city home.
Given that homelessness is dominating our civic conversation, we should take the opportunity to reset the debate with a firm grounding on the scope of the problem and start working toward a comprehensive solution. But we need more than that. We need everyone to pause and think about how it would feel to be on the street without a safe place to stay, or to be unable to provide basic needs for your family, or to be one paycheck away from eviction in a city where the rising cost of housing is setting national records. We all have a stake in ensuring our community is a place where all our neighbors can afford to live and prosper.
That’s why we are partnering with Pearl Jam on The Home Shows initiative. On August 8th and 10th, Pearl Jam will play two shows at Safeco field—the biggest concerts in Seattle since 1981. The band has one goal: banding together to fight homelessness. As part of the initiative, Pearl Jam is raising awareness about homelessness and its complex causes, raising more than $10 million to fund solutions in King County and calling on everyone in our community to contribute to positive change.
In planning The Home Shows, the band has put substantial effort into bringing together diverse stakeholders, including homelessness service providers (like the YMCA), businesses (like Starbucks), people who have experienced homelessness (like young people from the Mockingbird Society), advocates (like the Chief Seattle Club), government leadership (like All Home) and foundations like ours. A problem of this size and scope cannot be solved by one program, or one department, or one donor – it requires all of us to bring our skills, our resources and our voices to the table together.
Despite the visible rise in homelessness in our community, we believe ending this crisis is possible, especially if there is a concerted effort to bring leaders together to set common goals and priorities. Communities across the country have ended veteran homelessness. Others have ended chronic homelessness. And here in Washington state, great progress has been made to address youth homelessness. Statewide, the number of young adults experiencing homelessness has dropped in the last several years. King County has seen big drops in minors on the streets as identified recently in the 2018 homeless point-in-time count, as well as significant drops in veteran and family homelessness.
But we clearly have more work to do, and that’s where you come in. We hope you’ll join our effort by going to pearljam.com/thehomeshows and getting involved today and after the concerts.
This is not someone else’s problem to solve, it’s ours. Everyone who calls Puget Sound home deserves not just a safe place to live but the opportunity to thrive. Let’s band together to make that vision reality.