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Capitol Hill homeless youth nonprofit struggling to pay for a home of its own

A Capitol Hill nonprofit that has served the community for nearly twenty years is in the midst of an “emergency financial crisis,” organizers say. Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets board will meet Thursday to discuss the situation — a fundraiser is already planned for Friday:

Please help us continue to provide services at Peace for the Streets by Kids on the Streets by attending a fundraising art show this Friday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. PSKS is in an emergency financial crisis and needs your help! Every dollar you donate will be applied to current debt. We are meeting as a Board of Directors on Thursday- October 11th, 2012 to discuss the future of PSKS.

There will be free music, food, live poetry reading, baked goods and an art auction! PSKS has been providing valuable services to the Capitol Hill community since 1995. They provide a day drop in center(child and dog friendly) which has free hot meals, social services, and school aid. We are the last homeless service center on Capitol Hill, and have a continuum of care model we follow from homelessness to life off the streets. 

We are asking for a $5 suggested donation at the door. Hope to see you all there, 1814 Summit Avenue (Denny/ Summit), Seattle, WA, 98122, (206) 726-8500. Photos proceeds from the silent auctions of Daniel Glyn and Alex Garland will be donated to PSKS as well!

If anyone has art work they want to donate for the silent auction please drop them off at PSKS between now and Friday noon-4 PM.

The organization lead by executive director Elaine Simons serves homeless and previously homeless youth and has been funded over the years by donations and grants — including this example from 2010.

“If we have an angel out there… we need an angel,” Simons told CHS this morning. The board’s response to the financial shortfall is still being worked out so specific dollar amounts aren’t being talked about yet but PSKS isn’t waiting around.

“We need to pay this month’s rent,” Simons said.

The group’s Summit Ave lease runs through October of next year. It’s a $63,000 outlay that finding a better, cheaper, more free-er solution for could help unburden the group.

PSKS celebrated its 18th anniversary last month:

Happy 18th Anniversary PSKS- Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets! Thanks for so many years of happiness, joy, hurdles overcome, laws changed, young people transitioning off the streets, lives change, lives to be changed, births, weddings, felonies being cleared, votes being reinstated, graduations from highschool, GED and even college, families being re-united, and yes also for saddness as well; resulting in the deaths of so many of our street brothers and sisters. It has and will continue to be a honor to work for and with this non profit.

In solidarity and Peace ♥

Sept. 9th, 1995-Sept. 9th, 2012

Simons said the shortfall is the result of ongoing economic belt-tightening and the ongoing challenge of securing grants to bolster this type of nonprofit effort. “We’re still seeing the same and more of our population,” she said. “The other side (of the equation) isn’t keeping up.”

As the outlook for the next year of PSKS becomes darker, Simons said the group also finds itself in a kind of grant limbo that could accelerate the problem. For now, Simons is worried about Friday first. “We’d like to raise $300 $4300 to pay the rent,” she said.

The PSKS Fundraiser Art Show runs 5-9p at the 1814 Summit Ave headquarters. You can also give online via the Seattle Foundation but, given the near-term needs of the situation, you might want to drop PSKS a line if you can help.

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24 thoughts on “Capitol Hill homeless youth nonprofit struggling to pay for a home of its own

  1. Jay H we doubled the space two years ago and are in the third year of that new contract. We had to grow because of capacity.
    We have paid our rent for 9 years in the same location.
    The systemic question is that homelessness is growing and demand is up but supply is down.


  2. Hey guys, maybe you could formulate a plan for the future and put your plea on indiegogo, start a crowdfunding campaign to reach your goal of finding a cheaper or better place. :-) This has a been a really successful platform for funding community good projects. Check it out, maybe it will work for you…

    (It’s the site that the Oatmeal used to fund the Tesla Museum)

  3. Jay H, and I think I know a pretty obvious solution to you being snarky and rude asshole to people trying to reach out to help others in need, it’s called not being a dick. You should try it sometime, maybe even use these new powers for good instead of internet bad.

  4. PSKS is a wonderful organization with great people. The Backpack Project donated backpacks to them a few years ago. We were proud to be a part of this supporitng community. Let’s keep them around!

  5. Perhaps so, but if you can’t afford the extra space and have to shut down entirely then no one is helped. Better to scale back than to leave the Capitol Hill population without any resources. Thanks for the thoughtful and non profanity related reply. Good luck.

  6. Molly: Well, first of all, I did offer a suggestion for the problem, downsizing and saving the nonprofit from dissolution. I was neither “snarky” nor rude. Maybe I was a bit abrupt. I note however, that you offer no solution. Perhaps your solution is to be the PSKS “angel” that they require. If so, then bless you. If not, then may I suggest that you sit quietly in a corner until you come up with something constructive.

  7. Maybe, JTContinentsl, but not necessarily. The kids will go to the services. They come to Capitol Hill because that is where they can get help. Here is another reason–Capitol Hill is one of a few neighborhoods that will tolerate these sort of social service organizations.

  8. At the risk of sounding like a dick, maybe homelessness is growing (particularly amongst youths) because they know there’s so many options available (for free). I don’t know the stories of any of the kids you provide services for, but I would be willing to bet a good number (probably enough to not warrant having to grow into a bigger space) could just GO HOME. But they don’t want to be productive members of society and/or live under their parents’ rule. I know this isn’t the popular sentiment in the help-everybody-who-refuses-to-help-themselves crowd, but sending them home may be an answer to your problems.

  9. They come to capitol hill because this is where people are. It’s the most densely populated part of the city, thus better opportunities to panhandle for money/food. They could build an awesome facility in Kent, but nobody is going to go out there because they know they’ll ONLY get a bed and food. You can’t buy smokes and drugs with that. If they just wanted food and a bed they’d go back to their super oppressive parents who expect them to go to school and live a normal life. THOSE ASSHOLES!

  10. Their landlord gave them an ultimatum to rent both or to move out. Maybe they can work out of your place Jay? Finding a landlord to accept tenants like this probably isn’t easy.

  11. To those who think these kids can just ‘go home’ and see no need for services like PSKS, consider that the vast majority of these kids come from abusive households. Ignorance like yours is responsible for keeping these kids in situations of abuse and neglect which often leads to their addictions and mental and emotional instability. The alternative would be to support organizations like PSKS that work to turn these kids into productive members of society by making them feel accepted and loved rather than unfairly vilified by hateful people like you.

  12. There is an agency just off the hill, at the foot of Denny. It’s called the Orion Center, and from what I know it also provides “drop-in services” of various sorts to homeless and troubled youth. Doesn’t PSKS basically offer the same? Do we need two such places within blocks of one another?

    Perhaps PSKS could consolidate with the Orion Center and jointly provide the needed services. Is there any reason why this could not be done?

  13. Not a horrible idea, but YouthCare who runs the Orion Center has a hardline cut off of 22-years-old to access services. PSKS is more flexible (continuity of care) and also allows clients to bring their kids and dogs with them, which Orion and other drop-ins do not. PSKS also allows those who go there for services to volunteer and/or become staff there in some cases, which is a great model and really increases the commitment to the program. It’s a very comfortable, approachable space.

  14. @ JS
    Other comments on hear I can’t really speak to but yours in particular is so incredibly wrong it’s ridiculous. I volunteer at a couple places with homeless youth (not this one in particular) and to generalize in that way is incredibly offensive. The vast majority of the kids on the street are there BECAUSE of their parents or family. Family that are abusive, be it emotionally, physically, or sexually (maybe all three). Then of course you have the greatly disproportionate amount of kids that get tossed out for being LGBT, outed either on their own for by others.

    So think before you speak next time about other peoples lives. Not everyone gets to grow up with anything remotely resembling a good support system and what you see is what happens when these kids get chewed up and spit out onto the street by those toxic atmospheres.

  15. There must be a real duplication of services between these two agencies. If they decided to merge, they could negotiate some changes in who and how they accomodate street youth and reach a compromise. If PSKS is in such dire straits financially, they need to think about doing this in order to survive.

  16. Maybe I’m hateful. I prefer to think of myself as unsympathetic. It’s not like I grew up rich, and I’m not nearly as right-minded as I may sound in these statements. But I find it hard to believe that these kids are going to work to provide for themselves when they have somebody willing to provide for them. I’m sure some of them came from shitty situations, I never said ALL of them can just GO HOME, but I’d be willing to bet there’s more than can than you are willing to admit. Not every homeless youth is there because of a violent/abusive/etc home life. I can accept that I may be wrong about some of this, but can you accept that some kids are just fuck ups and don’t want to do anything but beg for money?

    While every one of us has felt the effects of the Great Recession, none feel those effects more than the youth in our communities and the organizations that support them. PSKS is one such organization that finds itself unable to weather the storm.

    Founded in 1995 by a school teacher and her homeless students, PSKS has been a unique operator in the world of homeless youth community resources. One of the first youth services to include the at-risk kids in the operation of the organization, encouraging them to speak up, get involved, and even engage in the legislative process that affects access to services, their successful bottom-up model has been replicated by other nonprofits. In addition, PSKS helps those that other centers turn away as they welcome the children and pets of those that seek their services. Others that visit PSKS have been excluded from mainstream services due to mental illness or addiction and will have nowhere to turn if immediate funding cannot be found to keep the organization open.

    While this unique youth service center opens its doors to many that other centers do not, they do have one requirement; the kids must participate in the community. The list of successes from PSKS programs and participation over the last eighteen years is long and includes legislative change such as the overturning of the Teen Dance Ordinance, community outreach and mediation such as the youth-oriented forums referred to as the Donut Dialogues which assist Seattle Police Department in improving their training practices, and empowerment through education and training programs such as RISK (Reinventing Steps to Knowledge) and LEAP (Lasting Employment Advancement Program). A more complete list of program offerings can be found at PSKS youth have been featured in documentaries including the Conjunction Arts film Endurance ( and the upcoming film Invisible Young (

    Should PSKS have to close, hundreds of at-risk youth that have been rejected from their homes and other support programs will be displaced into the community with no assistance. Because of their policy of wide acceptance PSKS is ineligible for many fund sources that are available to other organizations. Operating on a shoe-string budget, only 25% of the PSKS budget is used for administrative costs.

  18. Titan and Cahoun both of you have given some considerable thought to your comments and I appreciate them very much. Titan is right on the mark about the uniques operations of PSKS. We are a bottem up non profit where the young people themselves come up with program ideas, iniatives etc. For instance when we entered into this crisis moment they suggested putting on a fundraiser last night and we raised, in house, $2,714 from the “Kids” Fundraising Art Show. Thursday after King 5 aired at 5 PM we received an additional $2,293 in online contributions and we received $3,400 in contributions. On our cause page we have raised $254.00.

    That is a total of $8,654.00 raised in the last 24 hours. We had over 100 people come through last night and people are FIRED UP!

    These kids are remarkable and they will I am confident be the ones who end up keeping our doors open!

    We still need donations and you can go to and make your donation on the support page and click and pay on the Seattle Foundation Link.

  19. Thanks to our participatory model, we have been able to mobilize a virtual army of supporters that were previously untapped. Starting with a fundraising event organized by CORE Members last Friday, word has rapidly spread about our need. Over the past four days PSKS has been overwhelmed and amazed with the incredible generosity of our community. We have found, and renewed, friends and allies that are rallying their support to make sure PSKS continues to serve our participants. Thanks to more than 250 new individual donors who have contributed over $35,000 since Friday October 12, PSKS is feeling hopeful that we will continue our work to empower homeless youth and young adults.
    Our goal is to secure another $40,000 in donations and pledges by Thursday to assure our Board of Directors that there is enough financial stability to continue providing these critical services. This amount will allow staff to refocus their energy on serving our participants. It provides enough resources to secure additional revenue from grants, contracts, corporate sponsorship campaigns and events both planned and in progress. Achieving this goal provides the stability we need to build on the momentum we’ve generated from this outpouring of community support.
    Though we are financially unstable at present, a path forward has presented itself and we are walking forward with a growing community of supporters in our time of need. A gift from you will support PSKS on this journey toward sustainability.

  20. JS-That isn’t a popular sentiment because you are talking about a near mythological section of the homeless youth population. I am a social worker who has a fair amount of experience with street kids both personally and professionally. Sure, I have met a few who are just out being rebellious and bratty, trying to be badass, from nice caring families. Most of those end up going home pretty quick, because being homeless (even with the (skeletal!) services that most cities provide) really sucks! But the vast majority (VAST) come from abusive households, with parents with serious mental health and substance abuse issues. And then many of the kids end up with serious mental health and substance abuse issues, get thrown out or find that living at home is just not a viable option. I mean, seriously, what are these “SO MANY” options you are talking about? PSKS and Orion? A few shelters? It’s hardly a life of luxury. Yeah, just send them home to get the shit kicked out of them or to have them try to kill themselves. Maybe you should GET to know some of these kid’s stories before dazzling us with such an elegant solution.