Homeless Advocacy

An advocate is not merely a person who does certain tasks; advocates are distinguished by a way of relating to others that is fundamentally compassionate and empowering in nature.

Social Services in Olympia 

Homeless Advocacy Wiki Site 

If you have ever had to deal with the social service system, it is likely that the experience left you feeling frustrated and confused.  The system seems fraught with wait lists, catch-22’s, tough eligibility requirements, and other hoops, jumps, and hurdles.   

You may have applied and been denied for Social Security benefits many times, in spite of a serious disability.  Your families’ welfare benefits may have been cut by a caseworker for reasons outside of your control.  You may have overwhelming hospital bills weighing down your credit record and preventing you from obtaining housing. 

To make matters worse, the system is operated by a wildly disorganized tangle of agencies and programs.  The acronyms for these agencies and programs add up to a very murky alphabet soup, and it can be very difficult to “make heads or tails” out of any of it.

If this is the case, please visit my Homeless Advocacy Wiki and download the Family Support Center's free Community Advocacy Manual.  The Community Advocacy Manual was created out of a revised version of the advocacy manuals used by advocates at the Family Support Center and Bread & Roses.  This manual represents years of practical experience at working in the social service system.

You should know that the manual is not a comprehensive directory of social services.  Such directories already exist, and can be as confusing as the system itself.  The intention of the manual, rather, is to help clarify paths to services based on areas of need.  The “Housing” chapter, for example, lays out the various kinds and categories of housing programs, and explains how to apply for each.  You will also find the process for appealing decisions and overcoming tough obstacles, such as those mentioned in the second paragraph above.  The resources listed in the manual are those most commonly used by advocates, and as such, are not exhaustive.

It is recommended that you first scan through the manual cover to cover, to get a broad overview.  Then use it as a reference book and guide for your particular areas of need.  If you are currently homeless, I strongly recommend working with an advocate at the Family Support Center or Bread & Roses, and using the manual as an additional support.  If you are not homeless, but are assisting someone who is, give me a call at work (360-528-8999 ext 200), and I'll be happy to coach you through the process.  Please feel free also to call me personally to schedule an orientation to advocacy.

One last note: If there is one thing that will be sure to guarantee success, it is persistence.  Be persistent, apply for everything, and appeal decisions you disagree with.  You would be amazed at how well the system can work for you when you know how to make it do so.  Good luck.