Community-Centered Housing & Mutual Aid – Donate Here
We don’t have to tell you that these are tumultuous times. Policing, incarceration, and racial disparities have become centered as people across the planet stood up against state violence. We continue to face the worsening realities of confronting a surging global pandemic and its implications for our incarcerated loved ones. It’s been a lot to hold, and like so many before us we have learned that adapting so that we may continue to survive is not an easy thing.
Amidst all of this, we have been striving to meet the needs of our community, who know all too well what it means to be impacted by systemic violence and the resulting health disparities. As the year comes to a close and we survey the collective impact of this difficult time — so that we may point ourselves toward sustaining the important work which is needed — we would like to share with you a couple things that have been going on with our community:
- Inside prisons — Programs have been on pause since March 2020, and our community inside faces dire situations as some institutions are facing even their 3rd outbreak. On Dec 10, 2020, the Department of Corrections reports that over 38% of the people who are incarcerated at Airway Heights in Spokane have been diagnosed with COVID. Reports from folks inside have indicated insufficient protective measures, lack of access to plumbing and hygiene tools, and being directly exposed to those who have tested positive for the virus. Even as discussions of a vaccine have begun, our community is excluded from these conversations.
- In Reentry — In addition to the challenges already endemic in Reentry, returning community members have faced added difficulty this year. Barriers to accessing resources have increased exponentially. With the higher demand caused by a nationwide recession, we have faced housing shortages, and restricted essential social services (such as getting an ID and meeting other obligations for release) as these offices have moved online. Furthermore, COVID-19 has infected many people living in Department of Corrections Work Release facilities.
Navigating the cumulative impacts of this complex moment in time has also brought a focus on the importance of mutual aid. Often there is a narrative of people falling through the cracks; however, in reality, these aren’t cracks or gaps, but are intentional actions designed to target and deny our community the resources we need. For us, mutual aid starts with uplifting the voices of our community and collaborating to build non-transactional solutions around their stated desires. We know we are our own best resource, but many “solutions” ignore & exclude the brilliance our community has to offer.
In all of this work, we prioritize support for those who are most marginalized by incarceration, anti-Blackness, and systemic oppression — and who, because of administrative hoops, obstacles and discrimination, don’t get access to traditional resources. For example, the Credible Allies Project provides community-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally relevant Reentry support for Black, Indigenous and Latinx people.
This project has impressed upon us the overwhelming need for housing and just how central housing is to our very stability and survival. Not only does our community share the struggle to finding available and affordable housing with the general population, we face the additional systemic barriers of bias and legalized discrimination. In addition, many of us also have to manage stipulations on where we can live upon release that make finding housing even harder.
In response, we are making very intentional moves to provide housing resources. Since 2020, we supported hundreds of individuals and families with emergency housing, hotels and transitional housing, helping people move into permanent housing, and emergency rental assistance so people can stay in their current housing. Our approach to delivering housing support is anchored in our values of community: because we are in the community, from the community, and directed by the community, we are able to offer support as a community. This means that we work to ensure our processes and policies are anti-oppressive, trauma informed, and relationship based. We do not create stipulations on receiving aid, nor do we make the process of asking for aid cumbersome or impactful.
We take on that work as an organization to gather resources in our community to help meet the most urgent needs. Can you help?
We thank you so much for your support – whether you give your time, money, emotional labor or valued feedback. We’re in this work together and so appreciate being in community with you!