While Seattle wrestles with its own homelessness problem, a small suburb to the Emerald City’s east has been saving homeless mothers and their children from cycles of abuse, addiction, and homelessness for over twenty years.
Acres of Diamonds is a transitional housing program specifically for homeless women and their children seeking a new way of life.
Unlike other organizations in Western Washington that offer short-term transitional housing or rapid re-housing, Acres of Diamonds offers longer-term transitional housing. This housing is part of the Acres of Diamonds Program that teaches women healthy coping skills and necessary life-skills that will help them become self-sufficient. Women and their children can stay as long as they are making progress towards their independence.
Their goal isn’t simply to house the homeless, though that is an element of what they do. The goal of Acres of Diamonds is to restore women and their children to a life of dignity and fulfillment.
Women are required to take part in a 24-month program, but if their situation requires it, they are allowed to stay on longer “as long as they are making progress towards independence.” The program includes counseling, mentoring, interview and job coaching, and a variety of classes that include topics like health and nutrition, financial literacy and budgeting, and parenting.
According to their 2020 annual report, 93% of homeless families they served are now in stable housing, 87% of women who arrived addicted are now clean and sober, and 92% of families coming from abusive situations are now safe.
According to the Housing and Urban Development’s 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, Washington State had one of the largest increases in its homeless population over the last thirteen years, with a “substantial number of people in families found in unsheltered locations.”
In fact, Washington State had the fifth highest rate in the entire nation of families with children who were unsheltered (28%).
Acres of Diamonds is addressing that problem head-on, resulting in beautiful success stories.
Here’s a testimonial from Tamara P:
I knew I had a problem. I was always looking for my next hit even though I knew I wasn’t going to make rent again. The landlord kicking me out and CPS taking my sons was a wake up call that enough was enough. I needed to get clean if I wanted my sons back. I worked on getting clean and the program at Acres of Diamonds helps me make sure I stay clean. They’ve helped me better my situation so that I can be reunited with my sons. I’m hoping that day will be soon.
And another from Samantha H:
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but before Acres of Diamonds I had little understanding of money and no skills to get a job. My controlling ex was in charge of the money and I just stayed at home with the kids. When the abuse got too bad I knew I had to get out. I have been blessed to find Acres. They have taught me the life skills I needed to survive on my own and have helped me get the skills I needed to find full-time employment. It is because of my case manager that I was able to finally get a place of my own and that my kids and I are doing well on our own, something I never dreamed was possible.
While “Housing First” advocates preach that homelessness will be solved with four walls and a roof for every person, the staff and volunteers at Acres of Diamonds are putting in the real work of wholistic care. By acknowledging and addressing many of the problems that lead to homelessness in the first place – namely, isolation, addiction, and abuse – Acres of Diamonds is setting up each woman that passes through their doors for long-term success.