This fall the University Apartments, new permanent housing for homeless veterans and other homeless individuals, will open in the U District on 12th NE between NE 50th and 47th. I’m hoping to launch a volunteer project that will help weave the new residents into “the fabric of this community” (as Bill Block of the Committee to End Homelessness put it, in the video attached to the article about the University Apts groundbreaking, linked above).
Help formerly homeless vets and others feel at home in new housing!
A priority task for volunteers will be setting up the rooms for incoming tenants. Can you do this during August? And when tenants are settled, could we work on creating, gradually, opportunities for residents to socialize with U District neighbors?
One possibility is individual companionship over weekly coffee. Freestyle Volunteer encourages this kind of companioning while offering some guidelines. My ideal for University Apts tenants would be for each one who wishes to have a “coffee companion” to be connected with a congenial person.
En route to this goal, the volunteer group could arrange some informal social occasions at University Apartments, such as a barbecue or movie night. Some tenants might eventually gravitate toward group activities such a walking group, book club, music group, writing group, or cooking club, and prefer one of these to an individual coffee companionship. With the help of volunteers, tenants could dig and plant a garden – or not!
This would be a long-term, gradual, low-key, non-invasive, unforced process with highest priority on avoiding making any tenant uncomfortable.
As is well known, the threat and the reality of isolation – of losing a community and companionship when moving away from familiar faces in homeless camps and squats – have in the past pulled some people right out of housing and back on the streets again. Making casual neighborhood companionship available can help lonely tenants stay in their new home