Most agree that homelessness is a big problem in Ballard, but the debate rages over what to do about it. The removal of “unsanctioned campers” from Ballard Commons Park and the new fencing under the Ballard Bridge are two recent examples that have sparked heated conversations both on My Ballard and off.
Now there’s a new effort to help. Through a partnership with REACH and the Ballard Alliance, Ballard now has a dedicated “outreach case manager” working with the homeless community. Her name is Paige Killinger.
“Homelessness is a multifaceted issue and it can happen to anyone,” Killinger told the Ballard Alliance, which published a story in its newsletter. “I have met with people who grew up in Ballard and had professions, but different circumstances, such as a heart attack and mounting medical bills, led them to a life of homelessness. All of my client’s needs are different, so my job begins with reaching out to them, having a conversation and building trust.”
Killinger says her top priority is connecting the homeless with services that can help. She’ll also interface with local businesses and neighbors. She works for REACH, which is a program from Evergreen Treatment Services, a local non-profit that “provides street-based, case management and outreach services.”
“During our initial planning, it was our hope to fund a half-time outreach worker focused on the Ballard area,” said Ballard Alliance Executive Director Mike Stewart in the newsletter. “Through our partnership with REACH, we were able to leverage our funding to secure a match from the King County Department of Health. We’ve essentially doubled our anticipated service levels and are creating a model program that we hope will be emulated by other neighborhood improvement districts across the city.”
You may see Killinger out in the neighborhood, and she’s set up office hours at the Ballard Library every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon. All are welcome to stop in, say hello and ask questions.