Frequently Asked Questions . . . .
How big is the homeless population in Walla Walla?
The Point-In-Time count is taken each year on a single day in late January. For Walla Walla County, the 2018 count was 181 homeless. Just over 50 of those were in transitional housing and 61 were in emergency shelters or unsheltered. Neighboring Umatilla County reported 55 homeless, with 24 of those unsheltered. The Sleep Center served 261 unique individuals in 2019.
What is the cause of homelessness?
The primary cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. Simply stated, wages have not kept up with rising housing costs for the last several decades. Similarly, funding for those with mental illness or a physical disability lags behind increases in housing costs.
How affordable are rents in Walla Walla?
A housing cost burden occurs, according to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, when a household spends more than 30% of their income on housing. Households that spend more than 50% of income on housing are severely cost burdened. In Walla Walla, 36% of all households are either cost burdened or severely cost burdened. When considering only renter households, 49% are burdened or severely burdened.
A person working full time at the minimum wage of $11.00 per hour can afford $550 for housing. Those on disability receive from $179 to about $1200 per month income. Even at $1200, that person can only afford $360 monthly for housing. The median rent in Walla Walla is $800. The lowest rents are above $500 and those do not include utilities.
What are the demographics of those at the Sleep Center?
Ages have ranged from 18 to mid-70s. Approximately 60% are men, and 40% are women. Usually about 25% of the huts are occupied by couples.
How many at the Sleep Center are from out of the area?
The notion that homeless people are like the hobos after World War II, moving around from place to place with no roots, is no longer true. Most residents of the Sleep Center have strong ties to the area, either they were born and raised here or they have family here. 70% are from Walla Walla County. Another 10-15% are from adjacent counties.
Who can stay at the Sleep Center?
We accept anyone over the age of eighteen who needs shelter and can obey the rules as long as we have vacancy. We are “barrier free,” meaning that we do not exclude those who use drugs or alcohol outside of the Sleep Center as long as they can follow the rules and not be disruptive to others. Drugs and alcohol may not be used on site.
Are there other shelters in Walla Walla?
Yes, but the Sleep Center is the only ‘barrier free’ shelter, the only shelter that accepts couples, and the only shelter that accepts service animals.
What are the Sleep Center rules?
Keep it peaceful.
Keep it quiet10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Keep the Center drug-free.
Take care of your hut.
No smoking in huts, tents, or reception area
Obey fire codes: No heaters, open flames, or extension cords.
Keep it sanitary. Keep food out of huts. Put trash in garbage cans.
Look after your pet. Don’t let it bother others, and clean up poop.
Respect staff and follow their directions.
Stay out of the gatehouse, except by permission.
Exit the sleep center by 9:00 a.m.
About the Exit Homelessness Program
What happens at the Exit Progress Center?
Your first activity will be to work with a volunteer to set your personal goals. You decide what you need to work on.
Are you going to find me a job?
Yes, we will work with you to find job opportunities, skills training and resources to be ready for an interview, including clothing and grooming.
Do you help me get into a house?
We will help you find resources and help you with any problems or roadblocks you meet when you try to get those services or resources.
What does the Exit Program offer?
We’ll help you arrange any needed treatment, write a resume, get ID, provide a shower, give you an opportunity to give back to the community through participation on our Community Beautification Team, give you a letter of recommendation when you’ve been a responsible member of the team and help you change the perception of homeless people and yourself.