Family game nights, play dates with friends—it’s the simple things kids love that are close to impossible when you’re homeless. Just ask Theresa, mother to two kids, ages 10 and 12.
“Seeing my kids sad about not being able to invite a friend over for a play date because we didn’t have a home—that broke my heart.”
The family’s pain, stress and worry over homelessness started two years ago, when they moved back to Dad’s hometown of Seattle. They temporarily stayed with extended family while they looked for an apartment to rent.
“We had jobs and worked our tails off. But every time we applied for apartments, we had one barrier keeping us from getting an apartment: bad credit.”
After multiple rejections from landlords, the family had no choice but to stay in a tent city. They built and lived in a shed to protect against winter nights. No electric or plumbing, just four crude walls. Despite their struggles, Theresa says the kids made it to school every day, remaining positive and hopeful about the future.
The family eventually used their savings to buy an RV, a vehicle that brought them more warmth but little protection against judgment, name calling, even fist-pounding on the door of their make-shift home.
“Everybody is labeled something when they’re living in an RV.”
Theresa and her family needed support to get back on their feet. Enter the nonprofit REACH and United Way’s Streets to Home program that provides flexible dollars so people experiencing homelessness can quickly move off the streets and into housing. Last year, United Way housed more than 1,500 people through Streets to Home. The goal this year is getting homes for 2,000 people.
Streets to Home paid Theresa’s new landlord a security deposit and first month’s rent. Days later, they moved in to market-rate housing, an apartment in Seattle. Now it’s home. They’re slowly filling it with donated or inexpensive furniture. What they treasure most, however, doesn’t need to be purchased.
“I love seeing the smiles on their faces when we have game nights now. It’s an amazing feeling, being housed.”