"Family is the most important thing"


Mickey’s story: Providence Emilie House - Portland, Oregon

To Mickey, 67, family is everything. She speaks often of her two adult children, her grandchildren, and her brother and sisters, all of whom live nearby in Oregon or Washington state. And now, since moving to Emilie House in Portland in 2013, Mickey feels that she’s part of a larger family within her supportive housing community. 

But it wasn’t always like that. Mickey experienced homelessness and housing instability after being diagnosed with and treated for throat cancer in 2010. She lived in Seattle at the time, could no longer work in her career as an administrative assistant for a federal agency, and lost the ability to pay for housing or fully take care of herself. 

“I didn’t want to be without my kids,” she says. “I didn’t know how long I would live.” 

She lived in a homeless shelter for about six months and experienced a great deal of hardship, including having to sleep on the floor because there were no available beds. “I had to do everything myself, and I fell a couple of times – once when I was trying to get on the bus and someone was hassling me.” 

Later, she lived for a while with her daughter and her daughter’s roommate. Meanwhile,  Mickey’s kids researched places for their mom to live – somewhere safe, reliable and with supportive services to help Mickey care for herself. When they learned about Emilie House, “I was relieved,” says Mickey.

Providence St. Joseph Health sees its role in shaping healthier communities as including a responsibility to respond to basic life needs, including housing loss. The reality is that housing and health care are closely linked. People without stable housing lack access to healthy food, hygiene facilities and consistent medical care. Having a safe, reliable place to live changes all that.

Mickey enjoys doing puzzles and playing bingo with her friends at Emilie House. “It’s easy to form friendships here.” 

The team at Emilie House helps Mickey take care of her health, making medical appointments and ensuring she has her medications. Mickey’s family knows that she’s well cared for, safe and enjoying her life again. 

“Family is the most important thing,” Mickey says, adding that Emilie House “is my community. We like to do a lot together.”

About the Providence Supportive Housing Program

Providence Emilie House in Portland is one of 16 Providence supportive housing communities in three states - Washington, Oregon and California. The program provides permanent, affordable and safe housing for more than 950 seniors and people with disabilities who have very low incomes. Each location is a caring, respectful community with on-site service coordination to promote independence and aging in place.



About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

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