Navigating Paths out of Homelessness

By United Way of King County Posted on November 2, 2015 In Fighting Homelessness

An easy lift.

What does that mean? It means that there are people presently experiencing homelessness who can be helped with a fairly simple gesture. Dues for a union card. Motel vouchers so you can start chemotherapy with a roof over your head.

There is no one reason why people experience homelessness. The barriers facing those on the street are as varied and singular as the people themselves. A one-size-fits-all solution isn’t possible, but the new Streets to Home program as it strives to solve homelessness in a personalized, face-to-face way.

Streets to Home outreach workers are from five homeless and mental health organizations – including Valley Cities, Congregations for the Homeless, REACH, Compass Housing Alliance and DESC – are out in communities meeting people in their current predicaments. This means addressing their most urgent, pressing obstacle to getting off the street. For one family of four, it meant first and last months’ rent while the mother of the family worked and covered the rest. For another couple, it meant getting the husband a union card and tools so he could put his skills to real use. For someone else, it’s a simple mechanical fix for their car that enables them to get back to work.

While programs like Streets to Home have been tried in Seattle before, this program’s scale is brand new. Nothing this large has been tried in King County as a whole. Streets to Home benefits from experienced, existing outreach staff at local agencies. The program’s flexible funding signals a departure from the old one-size-fits-all approach. Built-in safeguards, including the fact that funds must go to service vendors and not directly to individuals, means outreach workers can apply money in inventive ways to help people in their own, unique circumstance.

It’s agile. It’s fast-acting. And to someone experiencing homeless, that makes all the difference.

Early results of the program include dozens being helped, positive feedback from donors and a nice endorsement from The Seattle Times.


November 18, 2015

Thank you for the good working you're doing. I have a cousin who is homeless. How or which way can I guide him to reach you guys for help?

December 16, 2015

Thank you for helping James Simmons! Such a happy success story.

Debra Lancaster
December 16, 2015

This program sounds like something we're trying to do north of you. Could someone at UWKC email me back with additional information on your partners and how you set up this program at scale? Thanks!

March 3, 2016

Hello. I am currently homeless(living in a shed in a friends back yard.) I do have a job, & haven't been in a situation like this(or even close to this) in years. Is there any kind of help that i am able to get,like possibly getting help on getting into low-income housing,subsidized housing,section 8,possibly help when it comes to finding a place or deposits?. The last time I was in anykind of need like this,it wasn't in king county,so i don't know what kind of resources are out there. Thank you.

Biancco Gardner
June 9, 2018

Hello. My name is Biancco Gardner. I own Damascus Homes LLC ( ) and President of Damascus Homes community center ( ). I house homeless people and with the community center looking to expand the reach of homeless person we will be able to assist. The reason I am leaving a comment is that your streets to homes is so awesome , we have housed many people through the funds from other organizations. Interesting we deal will agencies with money to place and we have housing and wish it was easy to work more closely together to get people in our homes from funds available to help homeless people. We plan to house 1000 or 10% of the homeless population in a couple of years. To do so we are looking to reach out to organizations to see what can be done to work more closely together if at all possible. I hope at some point we are able to connect. 3 people die a day from homelessness while we set back waiting to connect. My heart is people and I want to help the city and state I love and use this system I have put in place to go around the world and the nation in time. Thank you Biancco M Gardner Sr.

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