I have lived at Jeff Potter’s house for almost a month. Without his assistance, I would be living on the streets. I recently moved here from Vancouver, BC, and although I am an American citizen and never been homeless before, I found little relief from any public agency. Because I had been working in Canada for the last two years, I was not eligible for public assistance of any kind.
Jeff has provided a safe and clean environment for me while I search for gainful employment in these difficult times. If you have never been without a home, it is difficult to understand how important certain facilities can be when
job hunting such as having a clean shower in the morning, or an internet connection to email a resume. Jeff has created an environment that nurtures folks who have gotten the short end of the stick in this recessionary environment and want to persevere. With his Herculean efforts, Jeff is actively filling a void that no public agency currently addresses-reasonably priced temporary housing assistance for those that have fallen between the cracks of the welfare bureaucracy. He is providing a vital community service not just to me, but to many others, some of whom have moved on to permanent employment and homes of their own. He is doing this at his own
expense, without any outside assistance, and to the extent that he is on the verge of losing his own home to foreclosure in the process.
The atmosphere at the property is clean, comfortable and civil. There is no raucous behavior or impropriety and here exists a mutual respect among all those that are lucky enough to find this place. The community feeling that Jeff has created here is ideal, as those of us in need find helping hands in our fellow sufferers, sharing rides and expenses so as to better usurp our current circumstances.
As many social scientists have conclusively proven, living in a clean and friendly environment around caring, conscientious individuals, gives those without hope a chance to re-enter the working world and become the type of productive citizens every community needs to prosper and thrive. The dignity and respect given and received here is a commodity that is not easily derived and not available in typical homeless shelters or group housing projects. The rural atmosphere, the unique and pristine wooded property, the proximity to public transit and shopping and the clean and sober social climate here is unique.
I would think that the local Opportunity Council would find the property an interesting case study. In fact, the Opportunity Council have already recognized Jeff’s alternative housing as a legitimate project to the extent that they have made out checks to him to facilitate residents on his property when they were not able to accommodate individuals for lack of space. Perhaps a place as progressive and benevolent as Whatcom County should study the model Jeff has independently created and utilize his methods to address the growing issue of homelessness in Whatcom County and the US as a whole.
Because of his 28 years as an AA counselor, Jeff is an expert at turning a negative into a positive. Why not follow Jeff’s model and turn a negative into a positive? With the correct guidance and support, Jeff’s project could become a national PPP model that other communities and homeless coalitions might be able to study and duplicate.