Conversation continues about local homelessness, affordable housing

These are not just big city problems.

Calvary Presbyterian’s Pastor Lynell Caudillo.

Calvary Presbyterian’s Pastor Lynell Caudillo.

Sixty concerned citizens participated in a community conversation on homelessness and the need for affordable housing in Enumclaw at Calvary Presbyterian Church on Oct. 26. The public meeting was attended by people affiliated with Plateau Outreach Ministries, Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation, Green River Community College, Rotary Club, the local VFW, city administration and at least four churches involved with social services, as well as individuals who just wanted to know more about the topic.

“Homelessness and lack of affordable housing are more visible problems in Seattle, Tacoma and the bigger cities in our area. But those ‘big city problems’ need to be addressed in Enumclaw, too,” said Calvary Pastor Lynell Caudillo, who moderated the event.

Volunteers and a resident from White River Senior Housing in Buckley talked about their subsidized senior housing. Michelle Frets, executive director of Vine Maple Place in Maple Valley, gave a presentation on her organization’s housing and social services geared to single parents and children.

The two presentations sparked small group discussions about the nature of homelessness in Enumclaw and the fact that the number of people “sleeping out” is no indicator of the extent of the problem.

Attendees cited “hidden” examples of the dearth of affordable housing in Enumclaw: teachers and nurses unable to afford rent, children and parents sleeping in cars or on friends’ couches, seniors and others on fixed incomes cutting back on other living expenses to pay rising apartment and mobile home park rents.

Caudillo said she hoped this would be an opening discussion that would continue and include more people and agencies willing to work together to address the issues discussed and to find better ways to unify services for people in need of housing.

The conversation about “next steps” was continued at a noontime gathering Tuesday, Nov. 19, at Calvary Presbyterian.

This article was submitted by Kathryn Reid. For more about this topic, contact Lynell Caudillo at 360-825-3820 or pastorlynell@msn.com.

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