Serve Moses Lake has been working in our community for nearly 10 years, first opening its doors in the fall of 2008. Although we have been around for a few years, at times there is still confusion about what we do in our clearinghouse office. In short, we work to “help people find the help they need.” In many cases, we use the information collected in the intake interview to connect a client with an outside resource-- enter our partner agencies. Over the past 10 years, we have been blessed to build relationships with some of Moses Lake’s finest, especially the local agencies aiming to provide services to our community members in need. One incredibly valuable agency to which we often refer our clients is the Housing Authority of Grant County.
The Housing Authority is located in the Larson neighborhood, a modest building on the outside that houses an extensive operation with a heart for our community. Although there are many programs and resources within the Housing Authority, SML most frequently works closely with the homeless division: program manager Steffanie Bonwell, program assistant Stephanie Pacheco, and coordinator Veronica Sosa. Within moments of starting a conversation with any one of these women, it becomes abundantly clear that they each have a heart for the struggles of those experiencing homelessness and that they do everything they can for each person who walks through their doors. These three women work tirelessly in efforts to lessen the burden of homelessness for as many people as possible. The homeless program team has worked with SML nearly from the beginning, and the relationship between our two agencies is continually growing and getting stronger.
No matter their efforts or how much they want to help each person, the reality is that the Housing Authority is limited by policies passed down to them by the state and federal government. These policies restrict what kind of help the homeless program can provide as well as who they can help. For example, the homeless program is not able to assist in preventing homelessness through rent assistance or other similar means. They are able to assist the homeless once they have been “unsheltered” for at least one night, meaning the person spent a night outside, in a vehicle, or in another shelter not intended for human habitation. However, once that single requirement has been met, there is no waiting list. There is assistance of some kind available for the homeless on a nearly immediate basis. This assistance may not look exactly the same for every single person, but the homeless program is able to help in some way. Long-term help may vary, especially dependent on both the person’s eligibility and shelter availability.
At times, we receive questions from compassionate community members desiring to help someone who is currently experiencing homelessness. Although this will not be the best route for every person or the calling on every single heart, there are things you can do if you feel led to help. If you know someone who is unsheltered, a good starting place would be to ask whether or not the person has been out to the Housing Authority. The Housing Authority accepts walk-ins, but you could also call ahead to help make an appointment for the person you desire to help. One challenge the Housing Authority faces is their location: the Larson neighborhood is a very long walk from downtown Moses Lake, and many do not have reliable transportation. You could give the person a ride if you feel that is a safe option, or help them secure a bus pass to get to the Housing Authority and back. Encourage the person to bring along whatever identification and documentation they have (i.e. ID card, final eviction notice, etc.); one can never be too prepared.
The Housing Authority is a partner agency essential to SML’s ability to help community members in need. We are so grateful for all they do to help and for their willingness to work closely with us to find the best solutions for each person who walks through our doors. The Housing Authority, located at 1139 Larson Blvd., is open Monday through Thursday, from 8a.m. to 12p.m., and from 1p.m. to 4p.m.