New Mary's Place shelter focusing on 'diversion' assistance

SEATTLE  --  A new shelter for families facing homelessness is hoping that a short-term stay can mean some real long-term stability for families in our region.

Mary’s Place says the shelter opened less than two weeks ago and it’s their tenth facility, but really the first to specialize in something called “diversion.” Mary’s Place workers gave Q13 News a tour.

The new Family Diversion Center is focused on families that already have a housing voucher, some source of income, or other resources that make their needs short term.

“Diversion is a light touch. It’s working with families on their strengths to identify their barriers and help them move forward quickly. Sometimes that means connecting them to a support system, other times it’s financial assistance to help them move forward. The first, the last, the down, the birth certificates and, other times, it might be the work boots or the car repair to help them be financially stable to move into more stable housing quickly,” says Marty Hartman with Mary’s Place.

According to Mary’s Place, only 41 percent of families who needed shelter in 2018 actually got it.  Mother Miranda Berry says living on the streets with her 4-month-old child is really tough. She says this program provides them a real chance at a fresh start.

“I’ve been through a lot.  The streets are not safe for any kid or a mother who’s even expecting a child.  It’s been hard.  So just the fact that we are here right now, I feel like it’s a great place and I recommend it to anyone who needs it,” says Berry.

The diversion program has evolved over time.  It started as a drop-in center, then became a mobile service and is now a permanent facility.  Mary’s Place says they’ve connected 731 families with stable housing.