Want to receive Hospitality House Highlights straight to your inbox every month? Sign up here!
Noelle arrived at Hospitality House having never experienced homelessness before. A loving grandmother, she was staying with her daughter and a grandchild for several months at a discounted rental rate for providing childcare. All was well until her daughter’s partner moved in and the situation turned toxic. Due to her living situation becoming increasingly volatile, Noelle called Hospitality House to seek shelter. Noelle was a self-described people pleaser, though, and with a little convincing from her daughter, Noelle decided to turn down a bed with Hospitality House when it was offered.
Months later, Noelle called again. She knew that enough was enough and that she needed to stand up for herself and do what would move her forward. She moved into Hospitality House ready to receive the help she deserved. During her time here, Noelle met with our Case Manager to determine goals, receive advice, and discuss next steps. She had been on several housing lists for a few years, but nothing had come up quite yet. With Connie’s case management assistance, Noelle was able to get her Social Security benefits increased and develop a better sense of what type of housing was available to her.
Her dream home is in West Seattle, within walking distance to a few grocery stores, and near the schools her grandchildren attend. She would love to be close enough for them to visit for lunch! While the perfect housing opportunity did not come up during her stay at Hospitality House, another one did. A former contact offered her free rent for an apartment in Seattle through January in exchange for performing cleaning services. With a Seattle address, Noelle’s housing prospects grew. A requirement of Seattle Senior Housing is that the potential resident must currently reside in Seattle. Prematurely exiting from Hospitality House wasn’t an easy choice but Noelle knew it was a step in the right direction for longer term housing options, and a bright future.
“I never thought I’d be the person sitting with my stuff on the park bench being stared at.”
That’s what our client, Alexandra, told staff days into her stay at Hospitality House. She said that when someone approached her in a local park and asked what business she had there, Alexandra didn’t even know they were speaking to her because she didn’t “look” homeless with only a backpack and a few essentials.
Following separation from her partner and attempting to pay off debt, Alexandra found herself experiencing homelessness for the first time. Alexandra explained to staff that after her experience in the park, she realized that she was holding onto stigmas surrounding homelessness.
Many people have an idea of what homelessness can look like. There’re actually quite a few options around for a “drunk beggar,” “hobo,” or “bum man/woman” Halloween costume, which just reinforce the idea that you can identify who is experiencing homelessness by looking at them. If you saw one of our clients outside of Hospitality House, you’d never know they were experiencing homelessness. They have jobs as a desk worker at a hotel, an intern at a holistic wellness center, a nanny. They wear name brand clothes and own cars. Alexandra was enrolled in college classes during her entire time at Hospitality House, had a gym membership, and participated in a work study program through school-not exactly fitting the idea of a “bum woman” Halloween costume.
Alexandra stayed at Hospitality House until she found a two-year transitional housing program that has a special focus on students and women re-entering the workforce. Before leaving HH, Alexandra said her time here reshaped her understanding of homelessness and those who are working through it. Homelessness doesn’t have a certain look, and it doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished in life, or what you’re working toward-it can affect anyone, at any age, at any time. Hospitality House is here to meet residents like Alexandra where they are and help them find their footing and prepare them to thrive!
Penny was a resident who really had just come across hard circumstances. She graduated with her associates in human services just two days before coming to Hospitality House. Penny also worked full-time. Her longer-term housing had fallen through when she was moving from one lease to another, which put her in a tough financial spot. She was a few thousand dollars in debt due to a landlord insisting she had to pay the remainder of a lease, so she came to Hospitality House.
Penny was an all-star resident. She was completely reliable when it came to contributing to her share of house chores, worked 5 days a week, and would babysit for a family member on the days she wasn’t working. Despite her living situation and how busy she was, Penny remained quite optimistic. She had been homeless before and she remained confident that this time, it would also be temporary. Sure enough, things started looking up for her. Two weeks into her stay at Hospitality House, Penny received the happy news that she did not have to pay off the remainder of the lease as she had been told previously. It would save her thousands! Only a short time after this, she disclosed her situation to a trusted coworker. This coworker was also struggling with finances due to high gas prices and rent, so the two decided they would help each other. Penny was offered a place to stay with her friend, and the two could carpool to work together to save on gas money.
Penny was not one to settle. She still had her own place in mind, and she knew that staying with a friend could only be temporary. Only two months after her arrival at Hospitality House, Penny stopped in to say hello and share that she had a studio apartment close to work lined up! She expressed how grateful she was that Hospitality House was able to provide her with a period of rest while she figured some things out. Penny is doing even better than before, planning to work toward a bachelor’s degree, and continuing optimistically on her journey.
Many of our volunteers got to know Grace as a joyful spirit in the house. She came to us in January after patiently waiting for a bed through half of December. Her sense of humor, willingness to lend an empathetic ear, and desire to help lift up her fellow residents pulled people to her like a moth to a flame.
Grace quickly got to work. She arrived at Hospitality House with a Section 8 voucher and was eager to find a place to call home, work on her relationships with her kids, and start a new phase in life. She was happy to support her fellow residents, sharing resources and phone numbers for potential housing leads. Every time someone got some good news, she was right there to celebrate with them!
Almost two months after Grace’s arrival, Grace took a step back from her search. She saw her fellow residents moving on and questioned why she was feeling like her hard work wasn’t getting her anywhere. Every time she toured an apartment she loved, they would call her back and say someone else snagged it before she did. There was always more paperwork, more phone calls, and more roadblocks. Still, she was hopeful that her time would come.
Finally, Grace caught a break! A week after she decided to step back from the process, she got a call that she was approved for an apartment, and she could move in within days! She immediately began jumping around, singing, and waving her arms. You could see the faces of everyone in the room light up. She persisted through so many hardships, and now Grace is comfortable and thriving in her own apartment.
Casey came to Hospitality House after a room rental with friends didn’t work out the way they planned. She came in and hit the ground running, with set plans for her future. Almost immediately after arriving, Casey was hired on for part time work. She had many goals in mind-how much she wanted to save, when she wanted to begin taking classes, where she wanted to live. Her hard work led almost immediately to her employer offering her full-time hours, then overtime. Casey took on as much as she could without overwhelming herself.
She began to take advantage of benefits her work offered as soon as she could to accomplish things she hadn’t been able to do previously due to homelessness, like getting some overdue dental work taken care of. Her appointments for physical health, mental health, and housing would all happen whenever she wasn’t working, which wasn’t often. Sometimes staff would go what felt like days without seeing her. Without fail, though, Casey would meet with staff for updates, attend the house meeting, and complete house chores. She was often (lovingly) compared to a very friendly, helpful, household ghost!
Near the time when she would be expected to leave Hospitality House, Casey had to have emergency surgery. She worked with staff the entire time, expressing concern over having to be off work so suddenly. Thankfully, her work allowed her to take time off to heal, and we were able to extend her time to aid in her recovery. She didn’t stop doing what she could and would still spend hours each day looking for housing, studying a new language, or prepping for college classes online. Eventually she decided she was in a good place to buy a vehicle, which would drastically cut down on her commute time to work. Once she got the okay to return to work from her doctors, her employer made allowances so as not to push her recovery too hard. After some time back on her feet, Casey was able to save enough to feel confident in moving out. She got even more serious about her search and found a room rental which would make her commute to work even easier. She left Hospitality House with a solid new foundation, and we expect that we’ll see great things from her in the future.
Nina came to Hospitality House in early March. She previously lived with her mother a few hours away from Seattle, but after a conflict, Nina ended up in the hospital and without a home to return to.
The hospital social workers and a case manager helped Nina find a place for her here at Hospitality House. She arrived with only her laptop and the clothes she was wearing. Aside from having a bed to sleep in, she was most excited to have internet access so she could work on a coding program.
Nina acted as a source of peace in the house. She began looking at apartments immediately after her arrival, and spent time daily working to meet her education, mental health, and housing goals. Every morning she would make her bed, have some breakfast, and set up in the living room. A chair by the door to the room became “reserved” as her space. It was an unspoken rule that everyone respected without issue. A former shelf worked perfectly as a desk for her laptop to sit on. She would perch it on the arms of the chair, borrow a mousepad from the office, set up her laptop, and flip between reading comics, watching shows, learning to code, and apartment hunting. Residents would ask her for help with email or their phones, and Nina would happily oblige before quietly returning to her tasks. She became the house tech support, sometimes even helping staff.
Nina quietly worked away stationed in her “office” for two months. Slowly but surely, things began to come together for her. She began receiving food stamps. A studio in Queen Anne popped up in her price range (with the help of Catholic Community Services, or CCS), and then some timely donations. A regular donor happened upon some brand-new dining room chairs, then a desk became available, then a new mattress! After about two and a half months here, Nina was able to move into her new apartment, and had received so much support and donations, CCS needed to bring a van to transport all of her belongings.
During her time at Hospitality House, Nina diligently worked away at meeting her goals. She respected her roommates, encouraged them, and was always pleasant to be around. She is enjoying her new apartment and having her own space and is hoping to find a programming job to put her skills to use. Nina has a bright future ahead of her, and we are glad to have been part of her journey.