Alicia never slept in a building doorway. She and her kids never spent the night in a tent on the streets of Seattle or Bellevue. But for two years, Alicia and her family were homeless.
The eviction notice came after her abusive partner destroyed her credit by taking out loans in her name. She and her kids spent a few months couch surfing with various family and friends, never knew how long they could stay. They spent a year living out of their car. And for six months after that, they moved from shelter to shelter.
Domestic violence survivors like Alicia’s family are part of the invisible homeless population. We don’t pass by them on our way to work or see them at freeway off-ramps.
Yet families with children represent nearly half of the 20,000 people who are homeless on any given night in Washington state. And year after year, domestic violence is among the top reasons people in King County become homeless.
Survivors often face unique and significant barriers when it comes to housing. Economic abuse – which occurs in 98% of abusive relationships – can lead to poor credit and eviction filings, making it nearly impossible to pass background checks. And when abusive partners control finances, survivors may lack the money they need to leave while staying safe and stable.
Finding stable housing
For Alicia and her kids, My Friend’s Place – LifeWire’s transitional housing program – finally offered them a path out of homelessness. Thanks to flexible funds, Alicia paid off the debt her abusive partner put in her name and fixed her car so she could take her kids to school and look for a job. Her advocate spent hours on the phone with Alicia and her previous landlord, working out plans to pay off her housing debt and clear the eviction from her record. After two years at My Friend’s Place, the family is now living in their own safe and permanent home.
The path to permanent housing and financial freedom for survivors of domestic violence is often long and difficult. And it looks different for every family. At LifeWire, we know that having access to creative and flexible housing solutions empowers survivors like Alicia to break the cycles of homelessness and abuse and start down a safer and more stable path.