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Project Permanency helps families overcome struggles

Published on: September 01, 2005

In December, ParentMap announced its "Giving Together "
campaign benefiting Family Services, a nonprofit agency in King County
committed to strengthening families and creating a safer community.
This month, we profile Project Permanency.

When her husband
died after a long illness, Debbie, a 45-year-old mother, and her
daughters, ages 18 and 8, were left with a stack of medical bills they
could not pay. In addition, Debbie herself suffered from chronic pain
caused by severe arthritis and fibromyalgia; she lost her waitress job
because of her health problems and the depression that was exacerbated
by her circumstances.

Denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), she went on
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. At first, Debbie and her girls
moved in with a neighbor, but when the neighbor moved to another city
they could not afford to pay the entire rent.

Initially, Debbie was referred to Family Services' Transitional
Assistance program. Upon entering, the family was given emergency
family shelter and food vouchers. Debbie began working with a case
manager to create a plan to regain self-sufficiency. Despite her pain,
Debbie followed her care plan; her youngest daughter was enrolled at
First Place while the older daughter participated in Job Corps training.
Due to a lack of shelter capacity and Debbie's chronic medical
concerns, the family had problems getting into a family shelter. A
Family Services case manager helped Debbie coordinate her medical care
and apply for subsidized housing.

About one month later, Debbie and her daughters were accepted into
Project Permanency, which covered move-in costs, allowing the family to
get its belongings out of storage.

After moving in, the case manager helped Debbie contact an attorney to
appeal the SSDI denial. She was also linked to dental services and was
fitted for new dentures. And she began physical therapy at the Pain
Management Center at University of Washington.

Debbie has benefited greatly from the case manager support. She has
managed her budget carefully, paid off her outstanding debts and was
even able to clean her credit report. Recently the family got more good
news as Debbie won her SSDI appeal, including back payments.
"The staff heard me and my family's needs in a very non-judgmental,
affirming way. They helped keep us off the streets and put us back on
track," Debbie says. She and her family continue to live in a Project
Permanency housing unit and work with their case manager to further
improve their stability. Debbie is saving for a car and hopes to move
into permanent housing in the near future.

Family Services' Project Permanency is an innovative public/private
model for national best practice in the efforts to end homelessness.
The model links comprehensive case management with affordable housing,
so families get the key support services that they need to address the
barriers keeping them from long-term housing stability.
For information on volunteering time or donating clothing, contact Steve Winter at 206-826-3039 or swinter@family-services.org.

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