Group 2 4 min Read

The Growing Need for Rent Support in Bellevue: A Rising Trend

Across the country, rising costs of living and a lack of affordable housing are exacerbating the homelessness crisis. Our community is not immune to these challenges. At Bellevue LifeSpring, we have witnessed a significant rise in the number of families turning to us for assistance with basic needs—especially emergency assistance with housing stability.

The Bellevue LifeSpring Emergency Assistance Program prevents children from experiencing homelessness. We support families with rent and financial assistance during their time of need. This program also provides the first month’s apartment rent payment for families experiencing homelessness so they can have a place to call home.  In 2023, we provided emergency rent support to 284 families. This prevented 575 children from experiencing homelessness. As of July 1 this year, we’ve already provided support and prevented homelessness for more than 215 families with 447 children.

In just the last five years, the number of Bellevue students who need our community’s partnership to stay housed and healthy has grown by nearly 100%. Today, one in four students in the Bellevue School District is experiencing food and housing insecurity. That’s more than 4,324 children. There are more than 700 Bellevue School District students experiencing homelessness.

This data is alarming. However, with your help, we are working diligently to prevent as many Bellevue children as possible from experiencing homelessness. As part of our work to address this crisis in our community, we opened two Bellevue Family Hub in-person resource centers. The Hubs are located inside an elementary school and a middle school to make our programs, including emergency rent assistance, more accessible to families in urgent need of support.

As families visit our Bellevue Family Hubs, we hear firsthand the challenges they face, revealing some alarming trends, including:

  1. Immediate eviction notices: One alarming trend is the number of families receiving eviction notices after being behind on rent for just one month. This swift move towards eviction leaves families with little time to recover from short-term financial setbacks, pushing them closer to homelessness and increasing their barriers to securing future housing. Once a parent has an eviction on their record, it is very difficult to be able to rent again.
  2. High rental balances and reluctant landlords: Another significant issue we are seeing is the high balances on rental ledgers. Many families are accumulating rent debts, and many landlords are unwilling to accept partial payments to get their balances down while they get back on their feet. This leaves families with limited options and increases the risk of eviction as they struggle to pay off their debt in one lump sum.
  3. Increased need for assistance finding affordable housing: It’s widely reported across the nation that the lack of affordable housing is the main driver of homelessness. Many families arrive at our Hubs seeking assistance with finding housing they can afford. Most are unfamiliar with the housing search process and need comprehensive support to complete applications and gather the necessary documentation. This lack of familiarity often leads to delays and additional stress for families already in precarious situations.
  4. Rising requests from families with children protected by the McKinney-Vento Act: The McKinney-Vento Act provides protections for children experiencing homelessness, ensuring their right to education. We are seeing an uptick in requests for rent support from families experiencing homelessness with children. These families are in desperate need of stable housing, yet they face significant barriers in securing the necessary support.
  5. Utility shutoffs on the rise: In addition to housing instability, we have seen a significant increase in the number of families facing shutoffs of essential utilities like electricity and water. The inability to pay utility bills further exacerbates the challenges these families face, affecting their children’s overall well-being and quality of life and, thus, their education.
  6. Limited resources available from other nonprofits: We have also heard from families that other local nonprofit organizations are unable to provide needed assistance due to lack of funding. This scarcity of resources puts additional pressure on our organization to meet the growing demand.

These trends highlight the increasing housing instability here in Bellevue. Despite these challenges, we remain committed to supporting families in our community.

Financial hardships should not hinder the educational experiences of children. With increased awareness and your support, we believe ending the homelessness crisis for Bellevue children is possible. Join our mission to provide stability and self-sufficiency for Bellevue children and families, and donate today to help ensure no family is turned away from support.

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