Finding a “Home”
When we first met Andy in mid-2019, he had just escaped being evicted thanks to a United Way of King County eviction-prevention program, Home Base.
Andy, who was on the verge of getting evicted in the summer of 2019, is finally “home,” which, back then, he described as a place where he can “kick back” and relax.
When Andy first went to seek help from United Way of King County’s eviction-prevention program, Home Base, he was living in downtown Seattle in a studio apartment, which he said was too small with not enough space and not very secure—and much more expensive than his new home in Shoreline.
“I’m finally somewhere that keeps me happy, a home,” Andy said with an optimistic smile.
Andy said he received assistance from the King County Housing Authority to move into a spacious and less expensive apartment in a residential complex for seniors, just north of the Seattle line.
Andy, a jovial man with a sunny outlook in life, said he still works part-time at one of the sports stadiums in the city, but he’s looking for a second job to complement his income.
“I like to work,” Andy said, even though he’s near-retirement age. “I look forward to it. I feel better at the end of the day, and I get to socialize there—kick it back once in a while!”
While he maintains his cheerful outlook on life, Andy said he is grateful that United Way came forward at the right time to help him keep his old downtown place.
“I would be on the streets, and I would have lost a whole lot—clothing, everything. I’d be in a shelter,” he said. “But I try not to look back, only forward. Maybe someday I can help people in other ways.”
Giving back is in his nature, he said, adding that he volunteers at a local food bank twice a week.
Andy said he hopes that someday he can also give back to the community by being a leader and an example as someone who keeps fighting, a message he still repeats.
“If you’re struggling, if you’re cold, if you want the help, United Way will help you,” he said. Andy said many other people could benefit from the eviction-prevention program. “The funding helps people like myself. It’s important to keep families in homes and children in school and off the street.”
Now, he said he’s looking forward to seeing his grandchildren when they come to visit with his stepdaughter at his new place.
Eviction Prevention Fights Homelessness in Seattle
Eviction is a leading cause of homelessness, and one of the most effective ways to address homelessness is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Because of historical, institutional and structural racism, there are persistent race-based inequities that manifest throughout our community. We see this with evictions as well. According to the latest data, more than half of eviction filings were against people of color, and African Americans are 4.5 times more likely to get evicted from their homes. These groups are less likely to have benefited from multigenerational inherited wealth, they may have experienced displacement due to gentrification and are more likely to experience employment and housing discrimination—all because of racism.
Since it first launched in April 2019, Home Base has prevented 816 evictions—70% of those households were people of color. Additionally, 265 households received extended move out dates, allowing them to find new homes. The program provides a mix of one-time emergency funds, volunteer legal representation and the support of a social worker to connect people like Andy to other services and develop a long-term plan.