Food banks, shelters say loss of $1.2M from feds will hurt
The sudden, unexpected loss of $1.2 million in federal emergency food and housing money will be felt by King County's most desperate, say local agencies, including SHARE/WHEEL and food banks.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The sudden, unexpected loss of $1.2 million in federal emergency food and housing money will be felt by King County's most desperate, say local agencies.
King County was cut from a national grant last month when the total grant shrunk and the county's poverty and unemployment rates weren't high enough to qualify.
The money has been divided evenly between emergency food and housing providers in King County annually for 20 years. It's a small percentage of the total budget for most of the nonprofits affected, but it comes on top of cuts in local government contributions, and agencies were counting on the money because it's been so stable in the past, said Derek Wentorf, impact manager for United Way of King County.
"The big picture is a lot of shelters and a lot of food banks are losing funding," Wentorf said. "As agencies are preparing budgets, when they get unexpected news like this, that's when it can cause a lot of alarm bells to go off."
Homeless-advocacy group SHARE/WHEEL, which runs two tent cities and 15 indoor shelters in King County, immediately began publicizing that it would have to close shelters without the $44,000 in emergency-housing money it was counting on.
The organization depends on $5,000 worth of bus tickets every week to get residents to and from its shelters outside of downtown Seattle. SHARE/WHEEL is $30,000 behind on its bills, said Jarvis Capucion, a board member. St. Joseph's Parish pledged $5,000 Wednesday for next week's bus tickets, but after that, the agency will be out of cash for tickets, said Capucion.
Without them, Capucion said, the shelters are out of reach for most of the 300-plus people who stay in them.
"I kind of count on those two bus tickets every day to maybe go out and look for work, or get that shower," said Treasa Sides, a resident of a University District shelter and SHARE/ WHEEL board member.
Food Lifeline will forgo buying more than $235,000 worth of food this year because of the funding cut, said president Linda Nageotte.
The organization provides food to 26 food banks and 33 meal programs in Seattle.
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or email@example.com