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Hunger and Homelessness

Temple Beth Am recognizes the needs of those living in the Greater Seattle area who lack access to basic necessities such as food and shelter. Individuals and families fall into hunger or homelessness for many different reasons, and each person deserves adequate resources in order to live. Our members strive to provide those resources. 

Homeless to Renter (H2R)

One family disaster can lead to loss of home, due to job loss, medical bills, rent increases, domestic violence, or other issues. The first step is to find temporary shelter and support to keep family members together. Then comes the more difficult step: moving from homelessness. That's where Homeless to Renter (H2R), a Temple Beth Am partnership with Jewish Family Service (JFS), helps. Families who are currently housed but facing eviction either now or down the line due to temporary causes such as illness or injury are also now also eligible for one-time rent assistance through the H2R Program.

H2R has been helping families for nearly 20 years, and we continue to meet the challenges of family homelessness thanks to support from TBA members. Since 2004, H2R has helped 435 families with more than 1500 family members to secure or maintain safe housing. H2R has helped 75 of these families in the 18 months from July 2019 through the end of 2020, alone.

The  211 “hotline” and agency case managers refer families to JFS, which assists families who are ready to rent. Families locate an apartment they can afford, and H2R helps with deposits, move-in costs, and personal items, such as afghans, quilts, scarves, and hats—hand-made by our Knitzvah Knitters and LDS Church friends. 

Jasmine’s is one of many success stories. A single mother who could only work part-time after a ruptured aneurysm required brain surgery, Jasmine had Section 8 housing assistance but needed help with the deposit and fees. Listen to her story in her words.

COVID-19 job reductions and losses drive urgent new requests for H2R eviction prevention requests to JFS.

In December 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak, Temple Beth Am’s Board of Directors authorized H2R and JFS to provide even more eviction prevention assistance, both to existing H2R families and, more importantly, to new families who did not need move-in assistance, just eviction prevention. This enables JFS to respond to the requests for eviction prevention assistance due to COVID-19. They also authorized an increase in maximum grants to families, from $1200 to $1500.

We must continue to raise funds to help those in greatest need. Those who will be especially hard hit by the effects of COVID-19, of course, are those who become ill, as well as those who work in restaurants, hotels, tourism, the arts, sports support, and countless other sectors subject to lay-offs or reduced hours. 

Our annual Purim-to-Pesach housing drive recalls the mitzvah to give to the needy at Purim. Pesach reminds us that we, as a people, were once homeless wanderers. In the spirit of these holidays, you can make a donation on our Giving page. You can connect with Carlee Savage or Leslie Peterson to join our knitting efforts. You can contact Fred Diamondstone to connect with H2R.

Teen Feed

On the first Thursday of every month, we cook and serve a hot, nutritious dinner to homeless youth, ages 13-25 in the University District. Over a healthy meal at Teen Feed, young people connect with specially trained advocates and support coordination staff to access the resources and services they need.

Temple Beth Am members may volunteer to cook and serve the meal or donate food if they are unable to join. Youth over 12 years old are welcome to volunteer, but anyone under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult. For more information or to sign up for our meal team, please contact Linda Wheeler.

Check out our blog for the latest and to sign up to volunteer!

Thu, August 5 2021 27 Av 5781