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When stereotype becomes story, everything changes. 

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Baby Lilly* is blue-eyed in bright pink, looking up with curiosity from the arms of her mother, Larissa. Her cheeks are still rosy from the warmth of the blanket left on the bed.


Noah and Larissa’s story is one of perseverance and hardship. A story that is so similar in its heartbreak, but different in the details – from the stories of so many other families. “We’ve been here about a month,” Noah and Larissa tell me from the cozy nursery of the Infant House—Family Promise’s respite hideaway for families with newborn babies like Lilly. A month of peace. A month of sanctuary and respite from the bitter cold that has plagued Spokane as of late.


“And how old is she?”


“She was born December 20, so… about two months.” Larissa tears up at the memory. Just thinking about the terrors of giving birth with no sure housing bringing stark terror to her eyes.






It wasn’t long after Lilly was born that the family was threatened out of their living arrangements. Without anywhere else to go and a brand new baby to take care of, they were grateful and relieved to learn about Family Promise.


Larissa explained the chance encounter that led to their rescue.


“We were giving a friend a ride and he told us about (Family Promise). He had us stop at the main shelter because we needed diapers. Two days later everything happened (with our living arrangements). I called Family Promise and they said they had someone moving out of the Infant House. We literally were able to move into the Infant House the next day.” It was luck, it was chance, but it was meant to be. Without the Infant House, they are not sure what they would have done.


Grateful, relieved and happy, the Infant House is a refuge that finally feels like home for the family of three.




When asked how they’ve been holding up since their arrival, they said, “It’s definitely been relaxing. From what we were going through and our situation only getting worse, being here has been a weight off our shoulders and given us a chance to focus on moving forward.” The simplest steps are often the most difficult. Having a place to call home meant the world to them.


With private bedrooms and spacious living areas equipped for families with new bundles like Lilly, the Infant House welcomes families with open arms. Erin, the House Manager, is a warm smile who keeps guests well supplied with whatever needs arise. Downstairs, a basement pantry is lined with tall shelves of bulk foods. In several nooks and closets throughout the house, supplies are stocked from generous donors: diapers, clothes, formula, toys.


“We had nowhere else to go. This place really saved us,” Noah shares.


Sitting beside him, Larissa nods in agreement, baby Lilly staring peacefully while she speaks. “We are very thankful and blessed for the opportunity to be able to take our time and gather the things we need. These guys are wonderful. We are very thankful for Family Promise.”


The Infant House serves as Family Promise’s refuge for families with newborns. It is generously supported by grants, volunteers, and financial support from individuals. If you’re interested in donating to the Infant House to support families like Noah and Larissa’s, you can visit https://www.familypromiseofspokane.org/give.



* Changed for anonymity.









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On the floor of the shelter, in a corner by the windows, sits Brittany and her two babies. Her youngest babbles next to her while he attempts to crawl. Her older son sits in her lap while she patiently wipes peanut butter from his fingers.


Her warmth and kindness makes entering her corner feel like entering a home.


Brittany’s story is not a typical one of becoming homeless, as if there were such a thing.


It wasn’t because of drugs or alcohol, and neither was it because of laziness. Her impeccable ability to nurture her children was evidence of that. So how then, did someone like Brittany get to a place like this?


“All they see is eviction,” she says.


Her husband folds laundry on a couch nearby. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Whitworth and held a job there afterwards. He was also a decorated soldier in the Army. They paid their rent through his VA checks.


She adjusts her baby in her arms to nurse him. Throughout our conversation, Brittany welcomes interruptions from her own children or from others running around the shelter. She pauses to answer their questions or acknowledge a toy brought to her.



Brittany shares that their landlord stopped accepting the monthly VA check. They weren’t given a reason, nor much notice. All this when she was due for her second baby in two days.


She says of the experience, “We had two days to try to figure out how to go to court so we went down to Center for Justice—that was on Thursday—we went into court, we didn’t fill out our paperwork absolutely perfectly, went in on Friday, and literally, we went in to be induced on Saturday, didn’t have any time to be able to do any work stuff… so I went in, got induced on Saturday and was discharged on Tuesday and had two hours to pack before the sheriff showed up… Brand new baby, just got out of the hospital, and came home with two hours to pack.”


She shrugs as I stare at her in disbelief. This is a mother who would have finished her last quarter of college if her fibromyalgia hadn’t flared up on top of raising two kids and working two jobs. I ask how her landlord could decline the VA check, and she answers, “No reason. No reason. It’s all they had to say.”


Although I already know the answer, I ask why their search for a new home has not been successful. “All they see is eviction,” she reiterates.


Brittany continues, “It’s a bummer that we’re always underestimated and there’s that stigma on homelessness. I’ve been on the other side. I’ve done it.”



I ask Brittany how experiencing homelessness has changed her perspective on the issue: “What I think… is it’s just like when I became disabled [with fibromyalgia]. Before I was disabled, I thought anyone that ever said that they had pain… I was like, ‘Just take some ibuprofen like I do and you’ll be just fine.’ And in that way, my disability made me a better person. In this situation, now that we’ve lived it and now that we know it, now we can empathize and understand what everybody is going through and be able to make a difference.”


Brittany and her family moved into permanent housing of their own in late 2019.






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Tina was working full-time at an adult long-term care facility in Moses Lake when

She found herself stranded. The falling snow illuminated her broken down car, the cold frosting over the windows. Her fingers were blue with the mid-winter chill.


Tina, 30, was fostering her sister’s newborn and caring for her 13-year-old son, Will, at the time. Caring for these two kids was a full time job in itself, without even taking into consideration her actual job. The baby's daycare was on one side of town, while her work was on the other. To not have a car to drive, coupled with the impossibility of navigating bus lines in the middle of winter – made a difficult task nigh on insurmountable.


The consequences were unavoidable. Tina started showing up late to work and eventually lost her job. Without income nor a mode of reliable transportation, Tina started to fall behind on her bills. The bills started adding up, and the state took away her nephew. To add insult to injury, she was evicted a week before COVID-19 swept the nation.



“I was left feeling hopeless,” Tina stated. “I didn’t have anyone that I could turn to.”



For over a year-and-a-half, Tina lived on the streets. She gave custody of her teenager to his father while she survived wherever and however she could. Tina found out she was pregnant in August and gave birth in May of 2021. For the first five months of her baby's life, Tina and her partner Don were living out of their car.


“Life was very hectic,” Tina described, “Imagine trying to change a diaper at 3 a.m. in your car.”


Tina couldn’t fathom trying to navigate another winter on the streets, especially

with an infant. One of Tina’s family members was staying at Family Promise of

Spokane’s Emergency Shelter and recommended that Tina come to Spokane. Tina called Family Promise every day for two weeks until there was space available for her and her family. Tina moved into the organization’s Family Infant House with Don, her baby, and her teenage son in the early fall.



It was here where Tina found a restored sense of hope. “There is a community of people who support you,” she said.


Tina has worked closely with her case manager to identify S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) that have empowered her on a journey towards housing stability.


According to Tina’s case manager, her family has made leaps and bounds since arriving at the Infant House, “ Tina’s growth has been exponential since first coming to us. She is doing anything and everything possible to achieve her goals and create a better life for her children.”



Tina and Don are now both working over 40 hours a week. Tina has been paying off her past landlord debt, saving up money, and is well on her way to moving into a place on her own.


“Family Promise gave me a peaceful place where I could provide stability for me and my kids.”



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