Washington - Living in a tent city with diabetes


Kathy’s story: Providence Vincent House - Seattle, Washington 

Friendly, open and smiling, Kathy approaches life with a can-do attitude, even when times are very tough. 

She lived for many years in her hometown of Springfield, Mo., working in the finance department at a local university. Later, Kathy moved to Seattle to look for work and to be closer to an aunt, the only family member with whom she stayed in touch. She didn’t have housing lined up but took a leap of faith. Kathy put everything she owned into her car, including her dog, and drove out to the Pacific Northwest. 

Upon arriving in Seattle, Kathy, now 68, was again unable to find a job and ended up living in a tent city for about a year, where she faced many challenges. She had unreliable access in the camp to clean, fresh water, healthy food and basic health care – all major impediments to managing her diabetes. There was a lack of heat during the cold winter months, and she had to use an outhouse. Kathy didn’t always feel safe.
Hoping for a better life ahead, Kathy filled out applications and moved to low-income transitional housing. After that she waited a year until she got the call from Providence Vincent House that an apartment was available, and she could move in.

“I was very excited. When I saw my apartment, I was shocked at how big it was!” Kathy said.

For Kathy and others who have experienced homelessness, having an affordable, reliable place to live is a game changer. People with a stable home base have better access to healthier food and can focus on getting consistent medical care. They no longer live in constant stress. 

Once Kathy moved to Providence Vincent House, the team there helped get her health care needs, including her diabetes, addressed at a nearby clinic. She gets regular, healthy food; participates in exercise classes such as tai chi; and visits local festivals and other places on group outings. 

Kathy has now lived at Vincent House for five years. She loves her neighborhood and living near Pike Place Market. She feels safe and likes her neighbors and community.

At Providence Vincent House Kathy finally has found home, which she describes as “comfort, relaxation and happiness.” 

About the Providence Supportive Housing Program

Providence Vincent House at Pike Place Market in Seattle 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.



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