Found My Y: Addressing Homelessness with Community
Last updated: October 11, 2022, at 11:44 a.m. PT
Originally published: January 28, 2022, at 6:15 a.m. PT
By. Scott Schubert
My first ever experience at a Y was joining a basketball team as a first grader in Longmont, Colorado. When I stepped onto the court, I felt a sense of community right away, from the coach who taught me how to complete a layup to my teammates who taught me to never give up. I always thought that the Y only did physical health-related services but through that experience, I got to see all the things I did not realize the Y did in my local community.
Now I work at the Y, addressing housing and homeless services with the Y Social Impact Center, where we always talk about how the Y is so much more than just a gym. Being a part of a team that serves young adults in our community with housing, health, eviction prevention, education, employment and mental health are just some of what I do, and only a small slice of the work we do at the Y.
I will never forget the first day that I walked into the Y’s homeless shelter in Seattle. The conversations that I had with clients were honest, hopeful and filled with laughter. Our shelter was an opportunity for young adults to come off the street and get a hot meal, shower, work on their resume and learn other life skills.
When we hear about the crisis of housing instability in our community we often talk about our own fear and concern such as, what do I say, what if I say something wrong, is it safe. This is the exact opposite of what I experienced when talking with a client named Tony. My conversation revolved around how he has a desire to get back into school and strive towards more education. He shared how his family had asked him to leave because of sharing his sexuality with them. Even with everything happening he was still filled with so much hope and resilience.
On any given night, the Y serves over 450 youth and young adults in our community, through housing and other valuable services. According to our community one night count there are approximately 12,000 people in King County experiencing housing instability. This number represents individuals living on the streets, shelters, cars and other places not meant for habitation. In addition to our drop-in services, the Y offers move-in support, family reunification services, education, employment, mental health support and so much more!
A Y core value is respect, and we try to live and show it every day when working with homeless youth and adults. We need to show respect and realize that we have so much to learn from each other. Young people deserve to be heard and have a safe place for them to learn, grow and develop, and we provide just that within our programs.
One program that has been incredible to be a part of is our homeless prevention program. Over the pandemic, the Y has been a leader in distributing funds and services to people in need of rent assistance during the pandemic. To date, we’ve helped distribute nearly $7 million in rental assistance to young adults and families in our communities. This means that instead of looking to assist people after they start to experience homelessness, we are preventing people from ever having to enter the homelessness system.
This is just one example of the work we do at the Y and why this place is so special to me. From the first day on a basketball court, when I realized the Y was more than a gym, to today, when I meet people like Tony who remind me of how the Y makes a positive impact in people’s lives, it is why I give to the Y. Please join me by making your own pledge to donate and give today, to continue working in service of others.
Scott Schubert is the Senior Director of Y Homeless and Housing Services. Scott has dedicated his career to working with marginalized communities that are historically underserved. In addition to supporting the Y, he serves on the board of directors for Delridge Neighborhood Development Association which helps to bring arts, nature and housing into the Delridge community.
Found My Y is an occasional series of reported stories and personal essays from the people in and around the Y who weave the fabric of our communities. From sharing fun anecdotes of levity to the grand moments when we learn something bigger about ourselves, stories are our history and a gift. Have a story to share, or want to nominate someone for our next installment, e-mail us at email@example.com with the subject line "Found My Y."