Commentary: Helping the homeless requires a more serious effort

The latest tally of homeless individuals in South Sound is a reflection of the toll the economic recession is having on those living on the margins of society.

The Thurston County Homeless Census found 1,082 homeless people in the county, the most ever counted in nearly a decade of the annual count. The number is up from 1,016 homeless people counted last year and up from the 722 homeless individuals counted in 2008.

The steady growth in the number of people living without permanent shelter should serve as a wake-up call for South Sound elected officials. Five years ago, they promised to tackle the homeless issue head-on and reduce the number of homeless men, women and children. While some progress was recorded early, it’s as if the Homeless Consortium has stopped its quest. Our homeless population deserve better.

The economic recession, which has gripped this nation, this state and this community for two years, is a bit of a perfect storm for nonprofit organizations. During tough economic times when nonprofit organizations are most desperate for money to fund increased demands for services, strapped government entities cut back on their contributions to nonprofits. And because they feel the financial pinch, too, many individuals cut back on their charitable contributions.

The combination of increased demand and fewer financial resources can spell disaster for a community struggling to provide services to those in need.

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