“This is the opportunity to truly have a home. Not just a house, but a home.” Those were the words Wellspring’s Housing Stability Specialist, Nefertari, used to describe a new partnership she’s working on between Wellspring Family Services and Seattle’s Bellwether Housing.
In May, Bellwether Housing opened Arbora Court Apartments, a brand new development in Seattle’s University District, with 133 affordable housing units. Of those, 40 of the units have been set aside for families transitioning out of homelessness. Wellspring will support those families on-site with two housing stability specialists and a parent child specialist.
Transitioning into housing can be challenging for families with a background of homelessness and trauma, so long-term support is crucial. When asked what success would look like for the families, Nefertari was hopeful, “The success is that this building exists the way it does. There’s really an environment that’s going to support the family. The hardest thing I think for families is the move. Moving into a new place. Getting situated into a new school. For some, coming from being homeless, just being in a place is an adjustment. Adjusting into this new world with schedules, having keys, things we may take for granted.”
From her experience of working in Housing Services, Nefertari was quick to point out that often getting clients to take that first step into housing is a challenge. One person in particular jumped out to her, a past client that had been homeless for thirteen months and was unable to work due to disabilities. “She said to me, “You know, Nefertari, I really want a place but I’m afraid. I’m afraid to have my own place. Because I know the streets, I know my car, I know how to find a place where I’m safe. If I go into my own place, I don’t know if I’ll be able to maintain.””
The main goal of our partnership with Bellwether Housing will be to support families through those fears and challenges. Nefertari will be on hand along with another Housing Stability Specialist to connect residents with local resources and services. Our Parent Child Specialist will also help families to strengthen their relationships and understand any emotions that transitioning into housing may bring to the surface.
All staff will help families to settle into life at Arbora Court. To set down roots, and become a part of their local community. To make a home.
Nefertari knows that the tough job will be learning about each family, their unique needs, and how best to support them. But the many possibilities excite her too, “Every day will be different. Every client is different. I think of this as an opportunity - not a challenge. This is not my walk, this is their walk and I get to walk alongside them.”
“The project is like a whiteboard with lots of colors ready to be painted. This is a colorful project.” A project, and partnership, that Wellspring is excited to be a part of.