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Join the Seattle Mariners and Prevent Evictions!

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In late 2018, long before anyone had ever heard of the coronavirus, the Seattle Mariners recognized the importance of preventing evictions. They recognized the connection between evictions and homelessness. They also recognized that women, people of color, and families with young children are disproportionately impacted. And they knew that most evictions could be avoided with some help.

That’s because most households facing evictions have employment. They just don’t have financial reserves. So, when something unexpected and bad happens, like a carburetor theft, an accident, or a layoff at the office, they fall behind in their rent. If they can’t borrow from a friend or family member, they risk eviction.

The Seattle Mariners understand the cost to families and our community

The impact of eviction on a family is devastating. When they are evicted, they often leave most of their possessions behind. Having an eviction on their record makes it virtually impossible to find new housing. And the trauma and instability associated with homelessness increases the chances they will lose their employment next.

The impact on the community is also significant. It is more than twice as expensive to get a family back into housing than it is to prevent the eviction.

In Washington State, the average rent for a two bedroom home is $62.14 per night. The cost to exit a family from shelter to permanent housing is $14,207, or an average of $72.49 per night. In addition, the household is likely to spend 196 days in a shelter, and the average cost of shelter alone is about $55 per night. Since the shelter at which a household is staying may or may not be the provider who exits that family from homelessness, the numbers must be added together to reflect the full cost of services under the government contract. This suggests that the total cost is about $127.49 per night, far greater than the cost of housing alone.

Of course, this does not include philanthropic contributions or related services, such as counseling or childcare. It only includes costs tracked through government contracts, which pay an average of about 70 cents on the dollar for direct costs, and about 35 cents on the dollar for overhead costs. One can easily argue that the total cost of serving a family who slips into homelessness is far greater than $127.49 per night.

The Seattle Mariners created the Home Base program to prevent evictions

Working in collaboration with United Way and the King County Bar Association, the Seattle Mariners took the lead. They created the Home Base program to prevent evictions by:

  • Providing legal services through the Housing Justice Project,
  • Making flexible funding available through homeless services providers, including Wellspring Family Services, and
  • Paying for case managers from Wellspring and the Urban League who could assist tenants with financial management planning and coaching to prevent future evictions.

The Seattle Mariners’ inspired a new program at Wellspring

United Way of King County selected Wellspring Family Services to provide case management and diversion funding services at the King County Courthouse when the program launched. We were inspired by the impact we could make for households going through the eviction process.

As we spoke with family after family facing imminent loss of housing, we recognized the cost savings of a prevention-focused program. Many times, the eviction was prevented with a modest investment of a few hundred dollars. Since most of the households had employment, their income streams could sustain the rental costs as long as they did not experience a significant financial setback. Our case managers’ counsel helped prepare them to weather future financial crises.

Wellspring is building on the Seattle Mariners’ lead

Fast forward five years, and Wellspring is building on what we learned from the Mariners. We are in the process of launching a new employee benefit program called the Employee Stability Program. This benefit allows employers to care for their employees in the same way the Mariners care for the community: by preventing evictions.

Just as we did with the Home Base program, Wellspring is fundraising to supplement employer contributions and support employee stability. That’s the purpose of the Home Runs for Housing program connected to this trip.

Pledging to Home Runs for Housing prevents evictions for employees

You can help prevent evictions, just like the Mariners, by making a pledge to Home Runs for Housing today. If you want to follow along, consider making a pledge of $1, $5, or $25 for every home run we see! (Based on last year’s home run statistics, we expect to see about 54 during the course of our trip.) We’re also happy to accept a pledge of a set amount, like $50 or $5,000!

At the end of the trip, I’ll send a link to a Wellspring Family Services website for your donation. The funds will go directly to Wellspring, a 501(c)(3) organization. You will receive a letter of gratitude with your acknowledgement for tax purposes directly from the Wellspring team.

While we wish we could match the $3 million initial funding contribution of the Mariners, our goal is still ambitious. We are hoping to raise $100,000 to help launch the Employee Stability Program.

If you are an employer who would like to know more, you can find out more on the Wellspring website or by contacting me. Thank you for your support!