Homelessness growing on the Eastside



MEDINA, Wash. – It's a secret hidden from the gleaming high-rises and lakeside mansions of Seattle’s Eastside.

A growing problem in some of Washington's wealthiest communities is shattering the stereotype of homelessness, and the latest wave of poverty is hitting those who never saw it coming.

Dana Briggs’ pickup truck carries everything he owns. This once highly paid high-tech worker was laid off three times in 14 months.

“You wouldn't know us if we were walking down the street that we were homeless unless you talked to us,” he said.

Briggs has taken to toting a sign on the affluent streets of the Eastside, touting his master’s degree in management. He is not looking for a handout, but instead he is handing out resumes.

“I've been cussed at, told to get any old job,” he said.

His peers include engineers, PhD's, and downtrodden dot-commers – some homeless, all desperate.

Dana Briggs is part of a growing underclass on the Eastside: educated, white-collar workers who had everything and lost it all.

Bellevue's Hopelink helps find shelter for homeless families on the Eastside, but for every one family they take in to their 20-unit facility, they turn a dozen away.

Most of those in need are children and the statistics only tell a fraction of the story.

His truck has become his home office.
"When families are homeless, you don’t necessarily see them on the street. They might be in their car, they might be in an apartment with somebody sleeping on the floor," said Jan Dickerman, Hopelink.

The number of homeless people on the Eastside is estimated in the thousands, with services hard to come by.

“A lot of us in the human service community are calling it ‘The Perfect Storm’ because needs are up and there are increases in demand for services. Funding is down because of fewer grants, smaller donations and government cuts,” said Doreen Marchione, Hopelink.

This of course makes the road back to prosperity a long one.


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