It shouldn’t surprise anyone that there is a shortage of housing for low income individuals and families in Bremerton and the Central Kitsap area. It’s a sad refection of the state of our economy.
As recently as last month, housing authorities in Bremerton and Kitsap County reported that there are more than 600 families and individuals who are receiving Section 8 vouchers to help them afford a place to live. In addition, there are more than 1,800 people living in public housing that is provided to them based on their needs.
The vouchers are given out to the low-income people who qualify and can be used to off-set the full cost of rent. It needs to be understood that when these individuals can’t pay the full price of their rent, it is the taxpayers who are helping foot the bill.
Housing officials also report that there are five times as many people who have Section 8 vouchers that would qualify and need them, were there more to give out. That clearly signals that for a variety of reasons, be it low wage jobs, physical disabilities, or possibly mental illness, our county has people who are desperately in need of a place to call home.
If there’s anything that can be done in the long run about the shortage, it’s better equipped schools and better education funding. There’s a direct correlation between students graduating with skills to earn a living and their ability to get and keep a job. And without that job, there’s no money to pay rent.
There are those among us who subscribe to the belief that individuals should be responsible for themselves — that safe and adequate housing is not something that is promised to anyone.
But without friends and family, and with the right set of circumstances, just about any one of us could find ourselves homeless. All it takes is reading some of the stories of the individuals who have been helped through the housing authorities to learn that.
In a perfect world, we could each take care of ourselves and never need a helping hand up. But we’re not there yet.
Taxpayers should bear the responsibility of helping to provide low-income housing for those who truly are in need. And elected officials should be looking for creative ways to fund more low-income housing.
It’s our responsibility as citizens and neighbors.