Family Finds Safety Net in Streets to Home

When Robert found himself between jobs a few months ago, he worried. A lot. Not so much for himself—the Seattle area native had faced obstacles and uncertainty before. But he worried about his 6-year-old daughter Sarae: his family, his world, his everything.

“During the transition period, I didn’t have any funds and got behind on the rent. Then we got the eviction notice. I cried.”

The single dad reached out to a few nonprofits, hoping to find some temporary support so his family wouldn’t wind up homeless while he waited to officially start a new job.

Robert connected with staff at Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle who told him about Community Resource Exchange, a United Way event that brings together critical services and resources for people experiencing homelessness. At the Exchange, outreach workers from United Way’s Streets to Home program used flexible dollars to pay Robert’s rent for a few months, allowing him to avoid eviction and stay in his home.

“It was so stress-relieving. My anxiety went from up here to down here.”

Since the program launched in 2016, Streets to Home staff have helped more than 1,500 people, who are either newly homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, find a safe place to live. The program utilizes donor dollars efficiently, costing about $1,000 per person. Recognizing a smart solution that is yielding real results, United Way is scaling the program to house 2,000 people this year.

For Robert, Streets to Home has meant more than a game-changing resource; he’s a champion of the program and recently took a job on the outreach team to help others.

“We’re all just people. You might have a habit or a disability or what not-but it doesn’t make you less of a person. I think they can feel that. I think that’s my greatest strength or success-empathy. I’ve been there.”

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