The following stories show the positive impact that housing assistance has had on the lives of some of HASCO’s clients.
Family Unification Program (FUP) Vouchers
FUP vouchers provide housing assistance to families involved with the child welfare system, to reunify families or keep them together, and youths aged 18-21 who have aged out of the foster care system. To qualify, families and youths must lack adequate housing. Referrals and services for these vouchers come from the Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Below are stories from some of the clients who have been assisted by FUP.
“I have been homeless for close to 15 years with the Department of Corrections being my main source of stability, with great heartache to me and my family. One year into recovery from addiction, my 3-year-old daughter was removed from her mom’s care and put into foster care. With my clean and sober housing coming to an end, I was at a turning point in my recovery. No housing, my daughter in foster care – things weren’t looking so good.
“Then [the FUP] program came into my life and offered a solution to mine and my daughter’s [housing] problem. When I found out it was real, I couldn’t stop crying tears of joy. I was now going to get a real chance at being a dad and living a life that I had only ever dreamed of, and have never been able to do on my own.
“Taking full advantage of all the help provided to me, I have a full-time career and I am a full-time daddy. I not only feel like a member of society, I am! Today I live an honest, clean life and provide a healthy environment for my 3-year-old and myself. I view this housing program as the anchor/foundation to my success.
“Coming up on three years of sobriety, I am looking forward to becoming fully self-supporting, on my own, for me and my daughter. I couldn’t express my feelings and gratitude without real tears of joy. The Housing Authority of Snohomish County has provided me a solid foundation to a new and healthy life. Thank you so much.”
“Hi, my name is Aaron. I’m 19 and currently afflicted with chronic fatigue syndrome and actively in counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve been living with chronic fatigue for about two years now. My quality of life has been impacted largely due to not being able to do basic tasks. [At] times, something as simple as cleaning my apartment can take several days, working from room to room and resting. Oftentimes I have to reserve the day for appointments or grocery shopping because I know that I will feel poorly afterwards. It has prohibited me from attending school on a regular basis and from working.
“For a time I stayed in a transitional living house with 10 rooms; it was all that I could afford. I lived with recovering addicts, people that needed low-income housing, and also veterans. I stayed there for 9 months living off my savings, which was dwindling fast.
“I started working with Youthnet and discovered that I qualified for a FUP voucher. I was in my new apartment within two months just down the street from the housing authority office. They were extremely nice and helped me find a good reputable apartment complex near essential bus lines and stores. If it hadn’t been for HASCO I would have been homeless waiting for my pending disability case.
“It’s been 6 months that I’ve lived here, and I’m quite happy. I have had my disability hearing and am currently waiting for the written outcome. HASCO helped me more than my own family in some ways; for that I am eternally grateful. Thank you!”
“About 16 months ago I struggled with a drug addiction that I thought I could never overcome. It was killing me. It broke me away from my children and my family, who meant the world to me.
“I found out I was going to have another baby. One baby before was not enough to get me sober. But something clicked in me this time. I wanted a different way of life. I found a 6-month inpatient treatment before I gave birth to my baby. I knew CPS would be there to take her from me, and they were, but I had a plan and told them I was not going to give up on this baby, and to please place her with family for 6 months [until] I could get a bed, and I would prove I could do this.
“So, about 3 months later I got my inpatient bed. I was CPS-involved and determined to get my little girl back. So I did what I had to do – I stayed clean, waiting for my bed. And I could not believe my eyes when they placed my baby back in my care. That was huge for me.
“Well, it was getting close to our discharge and we had nowhere to go. Too many housing programs were full and if I had nowhere to go, my baby could not leave with me. I was a mess, thinking I was going to lose what I worked so hard to get back, but my CPS worker said, “I can get you a housing program. It’s new and you would be the third person to get on the program. I was so happy. It is through the Housing Authority of Snohomish County.” Little did I know I would be getting Section 8 and my own place. It was a struggle to get someone to rent to me but I found this place and had my heart set on it. And thanks to Phyllis, she talked to [the landlord] and got me in.
“If it was not for Phyllis and the Housing Authority, I don’t think I would be in my own place the last 9 months. I have almost 17 months clean, my license back, my own home and full custody of my baby girl, and I am working and going to college full-time. I want to thank Phyllis and the Housing Authority – you guys changed my life.”