FUSION to purchase its sixth condo for the homeless

"A Federal Way organization that helps families is expanding its reach thanks to three large grants. The grants will enable FUSION, a Federal Way program that provides transitional housing for homeless women and their children, to purchase its sixth condominium this year. Funds also will provide help to families in that condo for a year. The organization received: * $125,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding, dispersed by the city of Federal Way, * $8,000 from Weyerhaeuser, * $10,000 from King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer discretionary fund. We're an all-volunteer organization, so all the money we receive goes directly to the cause, said Peggy LaPorte, FUSION board president. The women who FUSION helps usually have a low education level, no job skills and no home, she said. FUSION provides a short-term home so these women can get back on their feet, LaPorte said. The families can stay in the condos for six months to a year. This period of time allows the mother to become stable ... to become self-sufficient, she said. During their stay, the women receive the services of an experienced case manager via a contract with the South King County YWCA. They also gain counseling, job skill training, childcare services, health care and social services. The program also benefits the community, LaPorte said, because it actually helps women in need get back on their feet, rather than cycling them through a shelter. Elizabeth Westberg, transitional housing director for South King County, said the need for transitional housing is great - especially since the average household income has increased little compared to the hikes in housing costs in recent years. In Federal Way, homeless women and their children make up more than 75 percent of the calls for assistance to the Federal Way Caregiving Network's emergency assistance hotline. It definitely helps to meet the need in Federal Way, Westberg said of FUSION's sixth condo, though it doesn't make much of a scratch in the overall South King County need. Westberg said the FUSION program has been a success for Federal Way. About 65 percent of the families who have been helped by FUSION have successfully moved into permanent housing. We're just really excited to bring a new unit on line, Westberg said. It's been a really good way to bring quality services to families that are homeless. "

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