When Two Jobs Isn’t Enough: Providing That Final Push Out of Homelessness

By United Way of King County, on January 28, 2016 | In Fighting Homelessness

How do you get someone off the streets and into housing? Ask Thomas Miles from Bellevue’s Congregations for the Homeless and he’ll tell you: “It’s a dance, it really is.” As someone who’s been with CFTH for two years, as well as a outreach worker in our Streets to Home program, he’s honed his technique.

“I envision this as walking alongside them,” he says, “and I don’t approach somebody like I’m selling something.”

Once he’s earned a place alongside them, he listens. He listens for their obstacles: Some people avoid homeless shelters out of a fear of the system. Others face addiction or mental health issues. Still others are working and saving, but the stigma of being homeless is too much for a landlord. That’s where Streets to Home’s discretionary flex funds come in.

He mentions a man working two jobs, socking away all the money he could, it wasn’t enough to make the first and last months’ rent, plus a deposit. Flex funds helped him get a roof over his head, and he’ll take on the monthly rent payments.

“Flex funds ease congestion in the shelter system,” Tom says.  Not only do they help get people who are ready into stable housing, they prevent those people from having to make a pit stop in shelter housing, keeping the beds free for others. These funds are always to a business or a service and not the individual receiving assistance.

They also help ready people for employment. When another man on the street needed to study to earn his Washington plumber’s license, Streets to Home procured the $150* book he needed to study.

And it’s just the beginning. The Streets to Home program is an agile, inexpensive and personalized method of lifting people off the streets. Tom is always out on the east side, finding new candidates for the program. While King County is in a homelessness state of emergency, Streets to Home is making a real impact, getting people into shelters, into permanent housing, or prepared for a career.

If you live in Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue or Issaquah and are looking for shelter assistance, call the Outreach Line at (425) 999-3290.

*A previous version of this post listed the incorrect price for the book.


Joey DeYoung
February 1, 2016


I'd like more information on the Navigators program. I'm wondering if there is space for a partnership between our two organizations, as well as the social businesses we partner with that offer job opportunities (Upper Crust Catering, Harbor Creek Farms).

Thank you!

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