When Ariel first experienced homelessness last winter, she lost more than a roof over her head. She lost something valuable and irreplaceable. She feared she would never get it back.
“Hope. I needed hope badly because I was getting really depressed because it’s very scary being homeless.”
The Bellevue native who was born with a kidney disease had been through tough times before. When she was younger, she briefly lived out of her car. But this time, she says, was different.
“It’s surreal how hard it is and you feel so stupid. You really feel bad that you’re in that situation at all.”
Ariel was evicted from her apartment last fall when she couldn’t pay the rent.
“I was homeless all winter long, like November until May. It was completely awful. I just found winter shelters. And I didn’t know it was so bad being homeless. It was really awful.”
She describes being homeless as exhausting. Resting her feet at a coffee shop meant buying something she couldn’t afford or she would be asked to leave. And money was scarce without steady employment.
“It’s really hard to get a job when you have no home. Because the first thing they want is your address.”
Through Congregations for the Homeless, Ariel learned about Streets to Home, a United Way of King County program that uses an individual approach to find creative ways to help rapidly move people out of homelessness.
United Way does this by partnering with outreach workers at key homeless and mental health facilities throughout King County. The goal is to use discretionary dollars, on a case-by-case basis, to remove the barriers many people face that can lead to instability and often, homelessness.
Streets to Home changed Ariel’s life. She received money to find a small apartment in Renton that she now shares with two roommates. It’s a place she proudly calls home.
“I would still be homeless if it wasn’t for [Streets to Home]. It gave me a goal. It gave me possibilities of finding a place to live.”
Ariel is now focused on managing her disease and on finding a job. She knows it won’t be easy, but Streets to Home has given her back something precious, the very thing Ariel once thought she might have lost forever: hope.