Gets Real: Auburn group offers crucial ‘One Stop Resource’ for low income residents

AUBURN, Wash. — “Offering resources” is a phrase you’ll see often in relation to homelessness, but it’s sounds much easier than it seems.

For example, getting a resource means finding and securing transportation. A resource may also not be available unless a benchmark is met, such as applying for food stamps (SNAP).

Hassan Walker learned about these hurdles as he tried signing up low-income residents for ACP or Lifeline, which are government benefit programs providing households with free smartphones and coverage.

To enroll in ACP, an individual household must already be participating in one or more government programs, like SNAP or Medicaid.

“We realized, what we need to do is get all those resources in one place for people to be able to get those at one time,” Walker said.

That’s when Walker met Fia Taito, the founder of Lend A Hand Community Outreach.

Taito runs a facility out of The Outlet Collection Seattle in Auburn, where she mostly focused on providing food for families and anyone in need.

She felt like she needed to do more, Taito shared.

“I just felt like the need was great,” she said. “I love to envision ways on how we can help support communities, not just in my hometown but throughout all the Pacific Northwest. (And) really utilize our resources so we can make a bigger impact on our community.”

Taito teamed up with Walker, who recently opened up “One Stop Resource” at The Outlet Collection Seattle in Auburn.

The name speaks for itself: the center offers bi-weekly resource fairs where qualifying low-income residents can apply for Medicaid, SNAP, free ORCA cards, and free cell phones. A food drive is also run by Lend A Hand.

“We gather these resources (and) we get them in one place, so we can get them to the community in one time,” Walker said.

That includes Charles, who was applying for a free cell phone at One Stop Resource. He lives in an Oxford House, a self-supported recovery home.

“We came here to get some information for (the house),” Charles said. “I need a phone… not being able to get ahold of my kids and family. It’s goin to help out quite a bit.”

Taito, Walker, and others will hold their next resource fair on October 28 (1 p.m to 4 p.m.) at the HEIR Academy Facility in Puyallup. You can find more information on the nonprofit’s Facebook page.