15 families progress to permanent housing thanks to Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center shelter

To date, the short-term shelter has helped more than 200 individuals.

The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center has helped 15 families move on to stability since its opening in 2020.

The short-term shelter is the first of its kind in Federal Way, providing temporary housing and resources to families experiencing homelessness.

Formerly the site of an old and shabby Econo Lodge hotel, 1505 S. 328th St., the family center was transformed into a place of hope and healing.

FUSION’s family center was completed with the help of a $1 million donation from the Lennar Foundation on behalf of former Lennar Homes associate Pete Andersen, who died from COVID-19 in March.

Andersen, 43, worked for Lennar Homes for seven years. He was one of the first people in the country to become diagnosed with COVID-19, and became the third person in the United States to die from the disease.

Since opening the doors on Christmas Eve last year, 57 families (about 200 individuals) have been served, said Robin O’Grady, executive director of FUSION.

The guest count averages 28 adults and 60 children on any given day, she said.

Of these families, 15 have successfully moved on to find permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

Guided and individualized family stability planning with each family by the center’s housing and employment specialist has been key in families finding success, O’Grady said.

Close community partnerships have also created access to critical community services and proven to be effective.

Current partners of the family center include the Multi-Service Center, Catholic Community Services, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church (Operation Blessing), Phenomenal She, Child Protective Services and Career Pathways, Department of Health and Social Services, and Food Lifeline, among others.

Families at the center also have the opportunity to apply to FUSION’s Finally Home Fund, which provides first month’s rent, security deposit, and moving assistance funds to transition into permanent housing, O’Grady said.

“This has been critically important as many community organizations exhaust these types of available subsidies quickly and this can create a bottleneck to permanent housing opportunities for families seeking permanency,” she said.

To date, FUSION also owns and manages 21 transitional housing units in the Tacoma and Federal Way areas.

The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center is located at 1505 S. 328th Street in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

The Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center is located at 1505 S. 328th Street in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror