Washington Youth and Families Fund: Making Homeless Rare, Brief, One-Time

WYFF image family

Seattle University will join Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, First Lady Trudi Inslee and nearly 40 different partner organizations today in a pledge to make family and youth homelessness rare, brief and one-time in our state by 2020.

It’s part of a celebration of the Washington Youth & Families Fund (WYFF). The fund is expanding its focus to embrace youth and young adults, building on 10 years of groundbreaking collaboration that is improving how homeless families and youth are served.

Seattle University’s President Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., will be one of the signatories on the WYFF Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by business, government and community leaders today.

Seattle University President Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., joins dignitaries signing the pledge to make family and youth homelessness rare, brief and one-time.

“Education is a critical piece of the puzzle in addressing homelessness. We believe every child deserves a place to call home, yet more than 30,000 school-aged children in Washington state – from kindergarten through high school – were reported as homeless in 2012-2013,” Fr. Sundborg said. “These children and their families need support to keep the children in school and to help the families succeed. The Washington Youth & Families Fund has been providing that support since 2004, and is an important investment in the future of the families in our state.”

The fund, established in 2004 by the Washington State Legislature and managed by Building Changes, is a unique partnership among funders, governments and service providers to share solutions and streamline resources for homeless youth and families.

Our project is proud to be one of the many Seattle University initiatives working to fight homelessness and poverty, and to join partners across the state in working to make family and youth homelessness rare, brief and one-time..

The Smiths — The Film About Homelessness That Had To Be Made

A new animated film about family homelessness and helping neighbors 

By Lisa Gustaveson, Project Manager for Seattle University’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project

As program manager for Seattle University’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project, I spend much of my time visiting local emergency shelters, churches, synagogues and mosques. During my visits, I often meet dedicated volunteers who spend countless hours providing meals, collecting clothes, back to school supplies, and hygiene items, for people experiencing homelessness (you all know who you are!).

During these visits, the question I am most frequently asked by volunteers is, does any of this make a difference? They wonder if they really are helping to end family homelessness.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unappreciated when the number of homeless families seems to grow every day. It’s also hard to find the best way to describe the importance of each and every act of kindness, how all those little gestures make a difference.

That’s why I was so excited when I learned about filmmaker Neely Goniodsky’s plans to create the short animated film, “The Smiths,” as part of Seattle University’s Film and Family Homelessness Project.

“The Smiths” is one of four short films created through the project, collectively titled “American Refugees.”


The Smiths American refugees

A still from the film “The Smiths.” The vivid colors used throughout the film convey the intense emotions of a family who is homeless, as they try to make ends meet.

I was a member of the project’s advisory team, so I had the opportunity to read the proposal by Neely Goniodsky. As I read it, I knew that the film should be – no, HAD to be – made.

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Guest Post: One Night in a Car, Our Family’s Story

Watching her child and grandchildren struggle with homelessness drove Diane to action. Read about their experiences and how Diane created a fantastic advocacy event scheduled for Aug. 22-23 in Pierce County.

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project

Diane is a devoted wife, mother of two daughters and grandmother of three. She and her husband are entrepreneurs and have owned their own business for over 30 years. Diane has participated in 60-mile cancer walks, Kiwanis, Lions, and has volunteered with St Jude’s and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She is a passionate advocate for better programs to prevent and eliminate family homelessness.

This is her family’s story.

One Night in a Car

Over the past year I’ve dreamt of being involved in an event where others can learn what it is like, just for one night, to sleep in your car. If nothing else, the event would increase community awareness around the many children who call the family car home. These kids wake up in their car and head off to school to return to a car that may or may not be in the same place. My family has…

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Hack to End Homelessness: Tiana’s Take (New Video)

What was the role of Seattle University faculty, students and staff in the Hack to End Homelessness? They were planners, community liaisons, hackers and volunteers.  This awesome new video by our project assistant, Tiana Quitugua, tells the stories of the many folks in red at the Hackathon.

Tiana is one of the stellar Seattle U students graduating this weekend, and this is one of her final projects for us.  Thank you, Tiana, for capturing this experience and telling it from the SU perspective, and for all your great work for us.

For more about the Hackathon, read our recap.