Addressing Homelessness in Seattle

Sometimes, life can get a little hairy.

For people experiencing homelessness in Seattle, one of the biggest challenges they face is getting access to the basic services they need, let alone something like getting a haircut. Enter United Way of King County who, in March, united with corporate partners for an annual Community Resource Exchange. In one place and on one day, people experiencing homelessness can access a range of critical services—from tax returns to veteran affairs, and yes, even haircuts and beard trims.

Last year, in their fight to end homelessness, United Way of King County invested $9.2 million in shelter and housing programs around the county, while connecting thousands of volunteers who want to make a difference. They took another step toward a permanent solution by galvanizing the community around an important, but often overlooked, part of daily life. For most people, getting a haircut is a chore. For those experiencing homelessness, it can give them confidence when times get tough.

Patrick Bailey, who has been homeless for more than 20 years, said: “It’s like a weight being lifted off of me. It makes me feel better about myself. I can go up to someone and have a conversation with them without them … wanting to get away from me because of my smell or how I look.”

In all, 1,125 people participated in the event, with 513 volunteers offering free services like dental work, foot washings, and mammograms to those in need. This initiative is just one of the many ways United Way of King County is introducing positive change in the community.