Real Change comes to Bellevue

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 7:20 PM

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- When you think of Bellevue, homelessness is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But it is top of mind for city and volunteer agencies eager to increase awareness of a problem that's been steadily growing for a decade.

Twelve noon and the lunch rush is on. In the shadow of skyscrapers are people who tend to live in the shadows, like Joshua Omernick.

"I've been homeless for about eight months," said Omernick. "It's pretty rough this time of year; it's getting colder outside."

Congregations for the homeless serves up hot lunch at its day shelter in the heart of downtown Bellevue. They've never been busier.

"It's difficult I kind of got caught out in the rain yesterday, kind of jumping from place to place," said Colin Werre, 27, who calls the streets of Bellevue home.

Bellevue's homeless population is on the rise.

"There are conservative estimates of 1,000-1,500 men, women and families homeless on the eastside on any given night," said David Johns Bowling, director of Shelter Services.

But walk the streets of downtown, you'd never know it. Come to Bellevue you'll see fancy cars, high rises, high end stores. But starting Wednesday, you'll also see Real Change. The newspaper and its vendors are coming to town in hopes of inspiring some real awareness.

"Because I think one of the biggest differences I've noticed between Seattle and the eastside is that the eastside homeless, in general, are still trying to hide," said Bowling.

On this day, the 58 men at the day shelter are hiding from the elements - out of the cold for a warm meal and a place to rest. With temperatures dropping and the number of homeless climbing, hope can be hard to come by, but it's here now. Josh Omernick is ready to get to work.

"I just got a job working for Real Change. I'm starting tomorrow," he said.

The City of Bellevue has partnered with several area churches working to open more shelters that also offer social services. For more information:

www.cfhomeless.org

www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/recession-response-housing.htm

 

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