Homelessness ends this week for a local family of six.
Daniel Robinson, Jessica Wylie and their four young children are moving into a three-bedroom house in Lacey after spending the past two months in a shelter.
“It’s a big stress off our shoulders,” Robinson said while holding his 2-month-old son, Zayvion. “I can’t thank everyone enough.”
The family is renting the house from Homes First, a non-profit organization that manages and leases affordable housing in the area.
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A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday evening at the house on Sleater-Kinney Road. The couple’s other three children – Wyatt, 8, Zach, 5, and Zayla, 18 months – were also on hand to celebrate.
The ceremony marked a milestone in the family’s emotional journey through homelessness.
“It’s surreal,” said Jessica Wylie, marveling at the backyard and all the space for her kids to play.
For the past two months, the family has been living at the Pear Blossom Place shelter in downtown Olympia. Case manager Lori Christmas of the Family Support Center of South Sound, which operates Pear Blossom Place, helped connect the family with the Lacey house. The support center has also provided rental assistance.
“This family has worked really hard to get here,” Christmas said. “They totally deserve to be here.”
Homes First’s 27 local properties serve low-income families as well as developmentally disabled adults and recovering addicts. The Lacey house was purchased in July, and crews have been busy remodeling the property for the past six weeks, said project manager Mike Fouts.
The red ranch-style house has a new roof, paint job, furnace and hardwood floors. Volunteer workers also repaired a leaky chimney and trimmed overgrown vegetation in the front yard. The house includes kitchen appliances as well as a washer and dryer.
“We went top to bottom on this,” said Fouts, who works on two to three similar projects a year.
Most of Homes First’s clients typically earn 30 percent below the area median income, which is $53,147 in Thurston County, according to the U.S. Census.
Homes First partners with service providers to find tenants for the properties. Service providers then take care of residents’ financial, social and emotional needs, said executive director Trudy Soucoup.
“They take care of the people, we take care of the property,” Soucoup said of the 25-year-old organization’s business model. “The community support makes it all possible.”
For some tenants, a rental property from Homes First is a stepping stone to larger goals.
“Maybe someday,” Robinson said, “we can buy our own house.”