By Connor Nash
In February, US Representative Pramilla Jayapal toured Roots Young Adult shelter in an 18,000 sq foot, 4-story building blocks from the University of Washington campus. By the end of the tour, Rep. Jayapal announced that she secured $4 million for Roots from the December 2022 government funding package signed by President Biden.
Roots is a low-barrier shelter serving guests ages 18-25 experiencing homelessness in the Greater Seattle area. Today, Roots provides overnight shelter capacity, case management, a full hygiene area, and two meals daily.
“This funding is a critical step in Roots’ vision to build one safe place to be for every young adult experiencing homelessness in the region,” says Roots Executive Director Jerred Clouse. According to Clouse, most of the funds will be used to pay off the mortgage of the building, begin work on renovations, and provide more services for guests in the space.
“We have our 4th floor that is empty,” says Program Supervisor Landyn Barnhill. “Obviously, once the fourth floor gets going, having transitional housing there will be absolutely awesome.”
Creating transitional housing in the space will be a significant upgrade for Roots, especially through the number of beds that will be activated. There are plans for more drop-in services, day services, expanded medical and mental health resources, and employment services.
In April 2022, Rep Jayapal released Community based funding requests from constituents organizations, totaling over $53.4 million. Roots requested for its capital campaign. Other requests included $5 million for a non-motorized bridge project in Shoreline, $20 million for the Thunderbird Treatment Center on Vashon Island, and $500,000 for the restoration of the 1926 Mukai Cold Process Fruit Barreling Plant.
By December 2022, Rep Jayapal’s community request received $33.4 million in funding, with $4 million going to Roots. The most considerable difference between the funds requested and the funds appropriated was the Thunderbird Treatment Center, receiving only $4 million.
Reading a Congressional appropriation bill can be confusing with hundreds of pages and millions of run-on sentences. Nowhere in the funding was there explicit funding of $4 million to Roots Young Adult Shelter, or specifically Seattle-based youth homeless shelters.
The money allocated for Roots came from Community Projects Funding. To receive funding proposals are submitted by nonprofits and are then endorsed by their Reps. Projects must demonstrate community support, have no financial connections to the US Representative or their household, and be funding an eligible nonprofit.
According to the documentation provided by Rep. Jayapal’s office, Roots received support from WA Senator Patty Murray. Few WA Community Projects received support from both a Rep and a Senator, with the majority supported by only one.
History of Roots
For over two decades, over 8,500 guests have been served. Even through multiple moves, Roots has not been closed for one day, providing services 365 days a year.
In September 2019, Roots purchased its current location, the site of the former Alpha Epsilon Phi fraternity, through multiple government and nonprofit agencies. After some initial renovations, Roots officially moved in on March 15, 2021.
Roots have raised $7.5 million toward the capital campaign goal of $12.5 – $15 million according to Roots Capital Campaign Manager Jordan Beaudry. Funding sources include the $4 million secured by Rep Jayapal, $1.5 million each from the City of Seattle and the State of WA, and nearly $500,000 from foundation support.
By Connor Nash
Photo courtesy of Roots Young Adult Shelter