PR for People Monthly May 2015 - Page 10

It’s no secret that Seattle is in the midst of a new boom. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray recently stated that the population in Seattle has now surpassed the population of Boston. If you want to see examples of unregulated growth, take a walk around the city and you’ll see construction happening on every block. Barely resembling the Seattle of yesteryear, whole neighborhoods have been rearranged with new apartments, restaurants and retail storefronts.

So what’s causing the boom? The gold rush is on for lucky workers who have been recruited for jobs at Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Expedia, Facebook, the Gates Foundation and Google. With all of the new jobs available, it would seem that poverty is not an issue for Seattle. And yet here is the bad news about unprecedented job growth in technology — it drives up the cost of housing for everyone, and especially for people who are not earning the high wages of technology workers.

People who are not necessarily low income are now forced to scrape by from paycheck-to -paycheck because the price of housing has skyrocketed. Seattle is the eighth most expensive place to rent in the country, with a median rent of $1,580 for a one-bedroom apartment. Keep in mind these numbers are escalating quickly by the day.

This is where the Queen Anne Helpline enters the picture. Founded in 1982, the Queen Anne Helpline is a nonprofit social service organization serving people-in-need in the Queen Anne, Magnolia and South Lake Union neighborhoods. These are the same neighborhoods that are experiencing unprecedented job growth and where the demands for housing far exceed the supply. Apartments and residential homes in these neighborhoods are most susceptible to hyper inflated pricing.

According to the Queen Anne Helpline’s Executive Director Lisa Moore, “There are still many people working for lower wages and they can’t afford rising housing prices. They’ve lived in the same place for 10 to 15 years and rent is going up astronomically in short periods of time. If they are faced with an emergency such as job loss or a health issue, they are suddenly in a crisis situation. These people are faced with the following option: Do I pay my rent, the medical bills or put food on the table — that is choice that no one should have to make.”

Stories abound about the elderly, families and individuals, essentially anyone who is not a high-net-worth individual suddenly being thrust into a crisis situation. Moore described one man, a single parent with a young child, who lost his job. With no savings or fallback position, he soon found himself out on the street and sleeping in is car. He was able to make arrangements for his child to stay temporarily with friends. Even when he found another job, he was still weeks away from coming up with the hefty deposits and application fees now required to secure an apartment. It was the Queen Anne Helpline that stepped in and gave him an advance on his paycheck so he get back on his feet, put down a deposit and sign a lease on a new apartment. Soon he was reunited with his child.

Queen Anne Helpline Offers Hope

Social service organization narrows the gulf between Seattle’s affluent and the new working poor

By Patricia Vaccarino