Re: “6 shelter beds will change the world for Pierce County’s homeless youths,” (Matt Driscoll column, TNT, 11/1).
Today’s homeless youth face big challenges. These students need stable environments – safe places to complete their education, find gainful employment, receive services and begin the difficult transition to adulthood.
Community Youth Services and the Tacoma Housing Authority should be applauded for the efforts described in Driscoll’s column. Creating more shelter beds is a welcome addition, but it’s not the only solution.
Since 2005, Bethel School District has helped nearly 100 youth countywide. We’ve partnered with local agencies to run a boys’ home and a girls’ home for homeless students. Because of budget cuts from Pierce County, both homes will close Dec. 1.
The shuttering of our program means that as we wait for these 12 new shelter beds to come online, 10 beds already in use will sit empty.
Last year, 520 homeless children, including 91 unaccompanied youth (most sleeping in cars or coach surfing) attended Bethel schools. Homelessness is a growing issue that must be addressed by Pierce County.
Education is the great equalizer. Without a diploma many opportunities for success are lost. Pierce County must take the lead to solve this problem and fund programs, including this current program, so that all children can succeed.
(Tom Seigel is superintendent of Bethel Public Schools in Spanaway.)