Guest blog spot: Educational Program Evaluation: Quixote Village by Jennifer Binus

Educational Program Evaluation:

Quixote Village, Olympia, Washington

ACE 640

July 2, 2018

Jennifer Binus

Economic History/Background Information Regarding the Causative Situation for the Community Based Education Initiative

Quixote Village’s story is really a tale of two cities:  Seattle and Olympia. The Village became a reality because Seattle’s economic growth has led to a widening gap in income, which while creating jobs and stability for some, is harming the chances of stability for working poor. Economic instability has been found to decrease academic outcomes in children, negatively impacting their chances of success as adults, with a 26.2% less chance of graduating, and a 20-28% less likely chance of meeting age appropriate academic markers. Further, economic stressors related to unaffordable housing have been linked to individuals and families being forced to stay in abusive situations, lower quality food and medical care, and significant decreases in mental and physical well-being (WILHA, 2017). The area’s increase in population, drastic increases in rent, and stagnant wages for the working class have impacted areas as far away as Olympia and Bellingham.

Western Washington has seen a significant growth in population in the last ten years due to economic growth in the Seattle area.  Between 2010 and 2017, King County, home of Seattle, has seen a population increase of 222,451 individuals (Zhao, 2018).  In 2011, the average 2-bedroom apartment cost $1,435 a month. Today, that same apartment costs $2,777 in Seattle (Rent Jungle, 2018). While King County hosts 1.21 million workers, averaging $76,830 in income in 2016, it is also home to 48,000 unemployed individuals (ESD, 2018).

Thurston County, home of the state capitol, Olympia, is located 60 miles south of Seattle. Pierce County serves as a buffer between Seattle and Olympia, although Olympia still benefits from and feels the impact of Seattle’s population and economic growth and development. Thurston County has seen a population growth of 24,636 individuals since 2010 (Zhao, 2018). In Olympia, the rent on a two-bedroom apartment in 2005 was $937 a month, the same apartment costs $1,160 today, with a median rent of $1,136, not nearly as drastic a change as Seattle, but still expensive (TRPC, 2018).  The average income in Olympia in 2016 was $63,286. Thurston County had 127,099 employed individuals and 6,658 unemployed individuals in 2016 (ESD, 2018).

In 2016, the United State Census reported that 11.3% of Washington state residents lived below the poverty line, averaging $32,999 or less in income in a year. Lower paying jobs in this high rent community are partially to blame for the rise in homeless populations within these communities.  While Thurston County is home to 579 sheltered, homeless adults, a decrease from 976 in 2010, and a school age homeless population of 1,600, an increase of 10% from 2016, of 149 students, King County is home to the third largest homeless community in the country. Washington state is home to 21,112 homeless persons.  Seattle itself is home to 11, 643 counted unsheltered homeless individuals, (New York 76, 501; and Los Angeles 55,188) (Seattle Times, 2017).

In 2017, the state increased housing by 39,500 homes to meet the need of this growth. This housing growth was an increase from the 34,600 units built in 2016, however, the overall growth of new housing is down from 43,500 at the beginning of the century. This is problematic for a state with a rapidly growing population. In 2016 alone, Washington state saw a population increase of 126,600 people, and while this did not account for individuals leaving the state, it still leaves a gap and a need for housing individuals and families (Zhao,2018).

The Need

Quixote Village is one of the original models used to shelter homeless residents in the nation with tiny houses. Quixote Village became a reality because a tent city in Olympia popped up in a downtown parking lot, “in solidarity with a tent city protest in Paris called the Children of Don Quixote,” in 2007, as a form of peaceful protest when Olympian officials forbade 30 chronically homeless adult residents from resting in the downtown area on benches or on the sidewalk and threatened them with arrest (Ransom, 2014).

The community did not initially embrace what was then known as Camp Quixote, and the residents were forced to move 20 times over seven years due to zoning laws and restrictions. During this time, houses of worship became host to the community, as well as various out of the cold shelters, but nothing permanent was settled on until the state legislature, working with Panza, and the local church communities, approved funding for the 30 tiny houses to be built with the ultimate goal of the community being permanent housing for, “chronically homeless adults,” (Ransom, 2014).

Quixote Village opened on Christmas Eve, 2013. Each tiny house is 144 square feet, and is “equipped with a toilet, a bed, a sink, and a front porch facing out on the shared green space,” (KCTS9, 2018). The community center, located on sight, offers a, “shared kitchen, and showers, and separate space for watching television, holding meetings or participating in the weekly yoga class,” (Quixote Village, 2018).  In exchange for 30% of their income, residents are given a home, and a community. They are required to complete chores, keep their units neat, and be respectful of others. They are asked to work together to become members of the community they live in. The residents are linked with services which aim to meet their individual needs and goals, but educational services are optional, but strongly encouraged (Quixote Village, 2018).

Definition and Type of Community-Based Education Initiative

Quixote Village is a nonprofit organization whose primary goal is to house the chronically homeless. The program uses the Recovery Housing Model (Drug and Alcohol Free) and Permanent Housing Model (Residents may stay indefinitely, as they sign a lease and pay rent and will not be forced to leave due to time restrictions.) to run and maintain the program. Panza, (Poetically named for Don Quixote’s servant, Sancho Panza.) “is a 501C3, non-profit organization,” which supports the villagers, and helps residents by governing day to day operational affairs and works together with the Residence Council, made up of the community residents, for community betterment. Panza has an executive director, program manager, case manager, and an accountant. The Residence Council meets weekly to discuss and vote on matters concerning the community (Quixote Village, 2018), (Osterberg, 2018).

While the community’s main goal is to house the area’s chronically homeless population, the community also serves as a means of educational opportunity to its community members. By providing residents with educational tools aimed at increasing their quality of life the program can offer sustainability education to its residents. The educational component of the programs’ primary goal is to increase the quality of life of residents during and after their stay in Quixote Village (Quixote Village, 2018), (Osterberg, 2018).

Quixote Village provides optional educational programming to residents aimed at helping the individual become more self-sustaining. By working directly with The Peace Center (TPC) for educational purposes, Quixote Village is able to provide one on one case management to residents over a seven-week period, that is aimed at helping residents meet their overall educational goals and build skill sets that directly benefit residents and meet goals set by the residents with their case manager. Educators are able to teach basic life skills, such as money management, how to fill out a lease, balance a check book, basic nutrition, and other fundamentally important life skills that meet the needs of the individuals (Quixote Village, 2018), (Osterberg, 2018).

The goal of the programming provided by the Peace Center, is to help the resident build life skills that will contribute to their overall success by assessing and understanding why the individual became homeless. Case managers are then able to determine immediate needs of residents and place them into programing to meet the specific needs of the individual, using their strengths to lead them to success (Quixote Village, 2018), (Osterberg, 2018).

Programs that residents may participate in include, but are not limited to: “credit cards, loans, budgeting, nutrition, resume building,” as well as a new class on small business ownership. The program also provides information and assistance on, “job coaching, transitioning from homeless to community living, finding different providers and scheduling appointments, and renewing benefits,” (Osterberg, 2018).  Further, the residents are linked to mental health, health, and substance abuse services as seen fit (Quixote Village, 2018).

Effectiveness of Community-Based Education Initiative

The one-on-one component is credited to the success of Quixote Village. Residents of Quixote Village have lived through a disproportionate level of, “trauma and abuse that has prevented them from living an independent life.” For some of the residents, their stay at Quixote Village is the, “longest they have ever lived in one place,” a success that case manager Jaycie Osterberg believes to be a huge success.  This success is measured in the residents’ ability to live in one location and pay rent, a minimum of $50 a month, or 30% of their income (Quixote Village, 2018), (Osterberg, 2018).

Educational goals are measured using HMIS, or the Homeless Management Information System of Washington State. This monitoring is mandatory and is used by the Department of Commerce. Resident income, mental and physical health are also assessed. Resident goals are put in place with the help of their case manager. Together, they assess whether or not the resident is meeting their goals based on progress the resident has made, and through resident self-assessment. Intake/exit interviews are used to determine how long residents may staying, where they go afterward, to check mental and physical health, determine substance use, employment, education, etc. (Quixote Village, 2018), (Osterberg, 2018).

Finally, Quixote Village does not force occupants to leave, they may stay as long as necessary. Since 2013, Quixote Village has housed 61 individuals, of those 11 have moved on to permanent housing, and 5 have returned to the streets. The city of Olympia views the community with a positive outlook. Its success has led to a second village, which is in the process of planning and construction, Orting Village, which will be used for sheltering veterans (Quixote Village, 2018).

Work Cited

Coleman, V. (December 7, 2017). King county homeless population third-largest in U.S. Seattle Times. Retrieved from:  https://www.com/seattle-news/homeless/king-county-homeless-population-third-largest-in-u-s/

Department of Numbers. (2018). Olympia, Washington: Residents’ rent and rental statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.deptofnumbers.com/rent/washington/olympia/

Employment Security Department: Washington State. (2018).  King county profile. Retrieved from: https://esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo/county-profiles/king

Employment Security Department: Washington State. (2018). Thurston county profile. Retrieved from:  https://esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo/county-profiles/thurston

Osterberg, J. (2018, June 27-29). Facebook interview with Jaycie Osterberg.

Quixote Village.(2018). Quixote village. Retrieved from: Quixotevillage.com

Ransom, T. (2014). Camp Quixote: Quixote village. Retrieved from:  http://quixotevillage.com/camp-quixote-quixote-village-reposted-from-tim-ransom/

Rent Jungle. (2018). Rent trend data in Seattle, WA. 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.rentjungle.com/comparerent/

Thurston Regional Planning Council. (2018). Median household income. Retrieved from: https://www.trpc.org/460/Median-Household-Income

Thurston Regional Planning Council. (2018). Thurston county homeless census report. Retrieved from: http://www.trpc.org/457/Homeless-Census

 

United States Census Bureau. (2018). Washington state: Income and poverty. Retrieved from: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/wa/PST045217

WILHA.  (2017). Bringing Washington home. Retrieved from: http://wliha.org/sites/default/files/WLIHA%20Affordable%20Housing%20Report_FNL_for%20reference%20%281%29.pdf

Zhao, Y. (2018). Population growth in Washington remains strong. Retrieved from:  https://www.ofm.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/legacy/pop/april1/ofm_april1_press_release.pdf