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Today’s Front Line Hero: Compass Housing Alliance

June 18, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Compass Housing Alliance, which has made significant adjustments to protect its guests, residents, and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located in Seattle, WA, Compass Housing Alliance provides essential services and affordable housing for people who are homeless, and those with low-income. The organization is rooted in the Lutheran tradition of showing care to neighbors through service, and welcomes all people equally with love.

Compass Housing Alliance took intentional steps to protect its community from the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including de-intensifying emergency shelters. De-intensifying means moving some guests to new locations in order to give enough room for proper social distancing in the shelters, and a new location at the Miller Community Center was opened in March to provide the additional space required.

Steven has been with Compass Housing Alliance for nearly two years and is a program coordinator at the Miller Shelter. “We are seeing a lot of people coming through,” Steven said. “The need is big, even before COVID. There are just so many reasons that people experience homelessness. We take real care at intake to not judge people or assume they are here for this or that reason. We get to know our guests as individuals and work with them on a case by case basis. We work with them, we give them the tools, but it is up to them to use them.”

The Miller Shelter took on 35 guests from the Compass First Presbyterian Shelter and 15 from the Blaine Center Shelter. The Miller Shelter features 24/7 access, on-site laundry, showers, hygiene services, common rooms with ping pong and TVs, and a laundry service for bedding.

Compass Housing Alliance has staff on hand 24/7 at the Miller Community Center, and the case managers from their original shelter are available to guests.“We have phones, computers, and everything is socially distanced and masked up,” Steven said. “We get our meals, three hot meals a day, from Operation Sack Lunch. The dining area and all the common rooms are spaced out and follow CDC and public health guidelines.”

Staff does spot cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day and have a professional cleaning service that comes in twice a day, as well. There have been no positive cases of COVID-19 at the Miller Shelter.

“The other thing I love that we do is the services we provide,” Steven said. “Sometimes the support someone needs is as simple as covering the cost for something like a driver’s license, or first and last month’s rent. We have built into our program ways to remove the barriers that keep people from getting out of homelessness. Sometimes they just need a little support to change their own lives. One of the most gratifying things is seeing people rehoused and back on their feet. And we are seeing that from people from all walks of life.”

Thank you to Compass Housing Alliance for the steps you’ve taken to keep your guests and staff safe from COVID-19, and to the excellent staff like Steven who are serving their neighbors faithfully throughout the pandemic!