December 1, 2023

Mission Moment – Mobile Housing

About Mobile Housing Advocacy

Everyone deserves safe and stable housing. The housing system is a complex and confusing process with resources and options that are always changing. YWCA Spokane Mobile Housing Advocates are a truly mobile team and meet clients out in the community. They help survivors of intimate partner domestic violence navigate their housing crisis and explore what resources they have and what support they need. Each client has their own unique situation and barriers, so the Mobile Housing Advocates have a case-by-case approach, looking to best support the goals of the individual.

“We do our best to meet each person’s needs in the best way possible,” states Leah Rempfert, Mobile Housing Advocate.

Approach

Traditional housing support programs often focus on paying rent and utilities for clients. Our team takes a broader, holistic approach to supporting someone’s ability to stay safely housed. In some cases, our program can pay for security cameras to help people feel safer in their current home or maybe we pay for a pet fee for a survivor so their pet can move into a unit with them. Our Mobile Housing program explores different creative solutions.

“We fill that niche group for our survivors so they have the ability to obtain and maintain housing in a way that fits them,” says Chandler Dean, Housing Outreach Manager.

Our advocates have a complex understanding of the barriers our clients face and how these barriers compound. For example, to live independently, a client needs stable employment so they are able to pay rent and other bills. If a client is a parent, they also need adequate childcare, which is expensive. However, oftentimes, a client already needs stable childcare to be in place before they are able to secure a consistent job. These barriers build off each other and need multifaceted, creative solutions to address.

Our advocates actively engage and empower survivors in the process. As the experts of their unique situation, survivors often already have clear solutions to support their journey forward. It is our job to collaborate with them to create a plan that moves them towards a sustainable and safe future.

“Our funding gives us the opportunity to have that one-on-one case management while they are working on those goals,” shares Leah.

With flexible funding, survivors and advocates have the freedom to identify creative solutions that help survivors resolve their barriers. It allows us to utilize the money to support clients in whatever way we need, paying for relocation, buying snacks, providing emergency services, and more. Due to the inconsistencies of this funding though, it is hard for us to plan into the future. It also jeopardizes our ability to support participants in meaningful ways.

Empowerment

Within our housing program, empowerment can look like skill building. Explaining how to look online for places, going over what to look for during a showing, or conducting a mock inquiry call to a landlord can help ease anxiety and make a survivor feel more prepared to take these next steps on their own. It teaches the survivor how to navigate the housing process and prepares them for future success.

“It’s more of a process than I think people realize,” states Ellie, Mobile Housing Advocate. “Everyone has their own barriers to securing housing as well as maintaining it.” Existing barriers like previous debt, credit issues, and lack of a rental history are compounded by pressures and stressors related to exiting a traumatic situation.

This program also fosters an environment that empowers survivors to try out their ideas, even if it might not solve the situation. Our advocates consider this a powerful part of the process. They don’t want to discount and damper a survivor’s autonomy and ingenuity as they troubleshoot through the process.

“Sometimes clients need to try something themselves to understand how the housing market is working,” says Olivia, Shelter Mobile Housing Advocate. “A client doesn’t necessarily need someone constantly criticizing their choices and telling them no. Ultimately, they need someone on their team who’s trying to uplift them.”

If they test an idea and it doesn’t work out, Olivia emphasizes that it is a learning experience and not something shameful.

Community Impact

Members of our Mobile Housing Team express such awe at the perseverance and resilience of the survivors they work with. Kassie DeMarco-Walls, Mobile Housing Advocate, shares that “It is always a special moment to see clients find permanent housing and thrive.”

Kassie recently had a client who was raising five kids and had been living out of their car. Last month they were able to move into their own place and Kassie utilized a grant to get the family mattresses and bed frames. “Now they are renting a house with a backyard that the kids can play in,” beams Kassie.

The road to permanent housing is long and slow. It’s a process and there are no guarantees. Our housing team works to fill the gaps and support survivors of intimate partner domestic violence as they explore pathways to stable housing.


Learn More

  • We have walk-ins available on Mondays from 9am – 11:15am for Mobile Housing Advocacy. View flyer.
  • 24hr help is always available through our helpline. Advocates from the helpline can assist with safety planning, resources, and referrals. They can also answer some basic housing related questions in regards to resources, referrals, lease breaks, etc. Contact the domestic violence helpline by calling 509-326-2255, emailing help@ywcaspokane.org, or texting 509-220-3725.

By: Jemma Riedel-Johnson

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