By Cristal Ramos, NWIRP Social Services Coordinator
As NWIRP’s social services coordinator, I am glad to work for an organization that understands the importance of providing holistic assistance to the community members they serve.
My position was created in September of 2019 thanks in large part to the generosity of our supporters. For years, our staff did their best to connect clients in crisis situations like housing insecurity or abusive relationships with partner organizations or resources. Now that I am able to take on this important work, NWIRP attorneys and legal advocates can focus on what they do best – providing the highest quality legal services possible to their clients.
It is my responsibility to partner with our clients in determining their needs in order to connect them with the resources that can meet those needs. There are too many resources that are underutilized due to systemic barriers. I hope that I can help educate the community about these resources so that future clients are safer, healthier, and more secure.
One aspect of my work is assisting clients who are experiencing housing instability. For community members who have recently arrived in Washington State, there are so many systems that are unfamiliar and difficult to navigate. My role is to provide immediate assistance to these community members while also educating them on how the systems work so they can continue receiving help for as long as they need it.
The toughest part of this position is the limited opportunities people have because they either don’t qualify for a service or need to wait a long time to access it. The hardest conversations I have are around housing, because there isn’t enough housing in our area and many community members do not qualify for the little housing that is available. Clients need housing or they’re going to become homeless, and the waitlist can sometimes be many months or years. Despite these systemic challenges, I am grateful to be able to help as much as I can. And I am happy to share that NWIRP’s social services work is continuing to grow. Through a partnership with the University of Washington, we are welcoming two social services interns in the fall of 2020. There is much more work to be done to provide help to our clients – but thanks to our wonderful community of support I am now able to serve as a full-time staff member.