New Shelter Puts Successful Diversion Model To Work!

In early June, we opened a new short-stay shelter with 50 safe, warm beds for moms, dads, and children - but also works with qualifying families to provide Diversion resources to help families move back into housing within 30 days.

From 2011 to 2018, Mary’s Place increased annual bed nights nearly 80% from 2,300 to 179,900! Despite this increase in capacity, of the 1,533 families calling the King County Family Emergency Shelter intake line last year, only 41% were able to find it. Today, in our community, there are still hundreds of families with children outside.

Diversion is an innovative strategy for addressing homelessness that involves working with families to identify barriers and solutions to help them move quickly back into permanent housing. Access to sources of flexible funding to address the unique needs of each family is critical to the success of this model.

Until recently, families had to be unsheltered to be eligible for public Diversion funds. At the new Mary's Place Family Diversion Center, families who have a housing voucher, income, or other resources and who only need a short stay can come inside to safety and stability. Mary's Place Diversion specialists then work with individual families to identify solutions and move back into stable housing within 30 days.

The Mary's Place Family Diversion Center model was piloted in partnership with the Schultz Family Foundation. Over the past three years, Mary's Place created both mobile outreach and drop-in Diversion programs that helped hundreds of families find stable housing at dramatically less cost than a shelter stay. Since beginning the Diversion pilot, our Mary's Place Diversion team successfully helped 731 families move from the streets directly into permanent housing, diverting shelter altogether. On average, a family accessed approximately $1,900 of flexible funding to address their unique needs.

We celebrated the opening of the new shelter with a BIG Open House Celebration to thank our sponsors and community for making this “home for now” possible!

The press release is here.

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Linda Mitchell