With nearly 3,000 young adults roaming the streets looking for a place to sleep, Tacoma’s homeless problem has become critical.
“Shared Housing Services” formed in January to fight the problem. According to the organization, Pierce County is one of the only in the state without emergency or transitional housing for teens, escalating the situation.
“They’re sleeping on benches, abandoned homes, foreclosed homes,” said Carley Cysensky, a housing specialist.
In some cases, it can be a lot worse.
“They may stay in unsafe situations, trade sex for a place to live, some of them are escaping domestic violence,” said Cysensky.
The solution is pairing homeless young adults and people with extra space in their homes together. Before they’re placed, participants go through extensive background checks and assessments to ensure everyone’s safety.
“A lot of teens will do something they don’t want to do to be able to have a place to sleep at night,” said Raphael Hartman, one of the program’s participants.
Hartman was placed in Dana Coggon’s home.
“It doesn’t really take anything away from your life to open up your home, but it adds so much in,” said Coggon.
The 34-year-old lived alone and enjoys having Hartman around.
“All they want to do is live their lives and not have to focus on figuring out where they’re going to law their head at night,” she said.
Hartman helps around the house when he can. For the first time in years, he no longer has to worry about being hungry and having not having a place to sleep.
“It’s nice to have a place to call home,” said Hartman.
He’s currently employed and in school studying criminal justice.
“Raphael has become such a part of the family, I can’t imagine not having him here,” said Coggon.
Shared Housing Services offers compensation to families that offer up a room through the program.
Nearly 60 people have been helped off the streets so far, but space is available for more.