By Polly Keary, Editor
Five women at the Monroe Gospel Women’s Mission are going to take a big step toward independence next week, when the mission opens a second facility for transitional housing.
The mission has operated an 18-bed temporary shelter on Lewis Street for single women since 2005, but it only provides one step on the way from homelessness or crisis to full self-sufficiency. The mission is intended for temporary shelter, but not more
The new facility, a five-bedroom house on 149th Street near Valley General Hospital, will be for transitional housing; that is, housing for a year or two while the women secure incomes and find permanent housing.
The new house is actually owned by a friend of the mission’s founders, who will rent it to the mission.
The move will mean a fresh start for a woman named Debbie, one of the five women who will move from the mission to the transitional house.
Debbie became homeless in Everett after leaving a bad relationship, and she stayed on the street for six months until she was hospitalized with a serious illness.
“The hospital wouldn’t release me to the street,” she said. Instead, they found her a space at the Monroe Women’s Mission, which is the only shelter for women between Everett and Wenatchee. That was more than a year ago.
Ordinarily she might have found other housing by now, as many of the other women do.
The average length of stay is about 90 days. But she is disabled and lives on Social Security income. This home will move her closer to a place of her own, she said.
“It means a new start,” she said.
And at the new place, she’ll only cook for herself, she said. She cooks for everyone at the mission.
Women with children still won’t be permitted to stay, but pregnant women will be accommodated, said Dorothy Stima, founder and director of the mission.
“We are going to target pregnant women,” she said. “They need a safe, warm place while they are gestating.”
“The new house will also take some pressure off the mission. It has an occupancy rate of more than 90 percent and has since they day it opened. More than 800 women have stayed there in eight years. This move will mean five new badly-needed spaces will open for women just leaving emergency situations.
Over the weekend, the mission was waiting for three more single beds to come before they could open.
This week, five women will move in and begin new lives.
“We’re excited,” said Stima.