For years, FUSION has helped provide homeless families in this area with transitional housing to lend a helping hand in difficult times.
Currently, FUSION is in the process of purchasing their 20th housing unit to continue helping families come out of homelessness.
Robin O’Grady, executive director of FUSION, said the purchase of this 20th housing unit is a huge benchmark for the organization, and is the culmination of 26 years of dedicated work.
“This 20th unit will help us continue to save and heal families experiencing homelessness and the associated trauma by providing critical and impactful services to families most in need,” she said.
Until March of this year, she said, FUSION has been 100% volunteer generated and without them, FUSION would not be able to continue the work they are doing.
O’Grady said to date FUSION has been able to help hundreds of families overcome homelessness the 26 years they have been in business.
These transitional houses only serve homeless families, O’Grady said.
According to Federal Way Public Schools, there are approximately 760 children in the district who report that their families are currently experiencing homelessness.
Before a family can move in to this new unit, O’Grady said, there are several steps that need to be completed first.
FUSION’s Housing Transition Team cleans and prepares the unit for move-in.
At this time they also prep the inside with furniture for the new family and try to make it as fitting for the family as possible.
“For example, if we have a child interested in soccer or horses, we will try to choose décor to fit their style,” she said.
While this is happening, their housing case manager screens families who are waiting for FUSION transitional housing based on their eligibility.
Eligibility criteria includes if the families are currently experiencing homelessness, low-income status at or below 30%, and minor children in care or families in the process of reuniting with children.
O’Grady said the family chosen must be willing to participate in program services and the family stability planning process. Family size is also considered when deciding who will move into a unit.
Typically, O’Grady said, larger families will be put into larger units when they are available.
Then a comprehensive intake assessment is completed and a “Family Stability Plan” is developed.
Trauma-informed care tools are also utilized, such as the HOPE Scale. O’Grady said this was considered best practices and measures for improved family resiliency skills while participating in FUSION.
Families who reside in FUSION housing units also receive several tools to help them overcome their current obstacles, O’Grady said.
These tools are as follows:
The development of action plans to resolve conflicts and barriers and provide the ability to access resources in the community.
Referrals for legal assistance, counseling, healthcare, domestic violence victim services, childcare, job placement programs, financial planning assistance, vocational training and assistance in applying for permanent, stable housing.
Fully-furnished homes or condominiums, as well as special funds for children to attend sports and arts-related classes and camps.
Also, age appropriate books, toys, and games, as well as holiday gifts and food-baskets are donated to each family.
Families receive this FUSION housing for a total of six months, their primary goal being to secure full-time employment and permanent housing.
O’Grady said extensions are considered each six-month period contingent upon family stability plan progress, with a cap of two years.
Once families are ready to transition to permanent housing, they are able to take their furnishings and decor with them.
“Support services sometimes continue while families get stabilized in their permanent homes when it is requested,” she said. “Families are referred to community resources and assistance throughout their program at FUSION.”
Along with volunteer support, FUSION has also recieved monetary support from King County to continue the work they do.
In 2018, FUSION received $3 million from the King County Council to build a family transitional shelter unit and community services center in partnership with Light of Christ Lutheran Church.
The project would create 22 units of emergency transitional shelter in the community to further help families out of homelessness.
FUSION, currently located at 1108 S 322nd Place next to Poverty Bay Coffee, moved there in 2017 to have a more permanent space to sell furnishings to help support their cause.