Emergency shelter addresses root causes of homelessness

If it wasn’t for an unassuming home in a quiet Colville neighborhood, Barbra Smith* isn’t sure where she would be.

The house provided emergency shelter for the homeless mom in her escape from domestic violence.

Now she and her three younger children are living safely and comfortably in a transitional apartment while they wait for subsidized, permanent housing.

“It’s like a big weight has been taken off my shoulders,” says Barbra of the shelter and support she’s received through Rural Resources. She and her three school-age children feel “100 percent” more secure.

For more than 20 years, Rural Resources has been providing temporary refuge for the homeless. In 1992, we purchased a 1911 vintage home and remodeled it to create the Stevens County Emergency Shelter, which houses more than 20 local families each year and provides services and support to many more.

Homeless services have come a long way since the days when shelters simply provided a roof, bed and food, says Shelter Services Coordinator Jenny Jones. Rural Resources staff members work with families to identify barriers to independence and develop plans to transition into permanent housing and achieve stability.

“The causes of homelessness are as varied as the families we serve,” she says. “What might appear to be a simple loss of income may turn out to be a substance abuse, domestic violence or mental health problem. To break the cycle of homelessness, we must first assess the root causes.”

In addition to housing, Rural Resources helped Barbra and one of her children get the counseling they needed to move forward.

“The staff is so wonderful,” she says. “When you come from a domestic violence situation, it can be hard opening up, but I felt comfortable talking to them. They never judged me. They were helpful and compassionate. You can’t get any better than that.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the client.