Paving a Pathway to Permanent Housing

When Ernest was homeless, he applied for permanent housing several times — and was repeatedly turned away.

BBH team member Matt greets Ernest at BBH.

“I kept getting my hopes up, but I would always get shot down,” he says.

Things changed when he came to Bailey-Boushay House (BBH).

“Bailey let me know that I matter,” Ernest says.

Our team gave Ernest a place to stay and helped him navigate the complicated process of landing his own apartment, which is a place he calls "his kingdom.” He is one of many people who BBH has helped through our rental assistance program.

More Than a Shelter

About 10 percent of Seattle’s homeless population has HIV. To address this issue with our clients, BBH opened a 50-bed emergency shelter to provide housing for our most vulnerable clients in 2018.

“This program isn’t just about giving people a safe place to stay — it is about paving a pathway to permanent housing,” says BBH Executive Director Brian Knowles.

If clients are going to qualify for — and keep — a rented apartment, they need to be as healthy and stable as possible. BBH helps with this by providing things like medical care, chemical dependency counseling, mental health services and career counseling.

Still, many clients don’t know how to apply for housing, and don’t meet standard rental criteria.

“Many clients don’t have housing histories, and having as little as $100 in debt could keep them from renting an apartment,” Brian says. “Our team has developed relationships with landlords so we can vouch for clients. We also help clients pay off debt and fill out housing applications. We even work with an insurance provider that lets us use donor funds to help clients pay for rental insurance.”

BBH also takes advantage of two federal funding programs to help clients pay rent. Clients put 30 percent of their income toward housing, and the grants cover the rest. As their income grows, clients pay more of their housing costs.

“Since January 2019, we’ve helped more than 40 people find permanent housing,” Brian says, “We ultimately hope to help about 200 clients at a time.”

BBH helped former shelter resident Chris find permanent housing.

Helping Clients Succeed

Many people we serve have been homeless for years, so moving into permanent housing can be a big transition. To make this easier, BBH connects each person with social workers, occupational therapists and even people who can help keep track of bills.

Each client also receives a custom “new housing kit” that includes items like a bed, pots and pans, and a vacuum.

“Donations make these new housing kits possible,” Brian says. 

Once clients are in permanent housing, they can keep coming to BBH for meals, appointments and counseling.

“Bailey has been a huge help and an inspiration,” Ernest says. “I don’t know if the team members really, truly realize the life-changing effect they have on everybody. For me, Bailey, is best described in four words… Hope. Believe. Beginnings. Home.”