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Bellingham mom of 5 shares plight of being homeless during coronavirus outbreak

Washington shelters were already packed and getting more so with extra social distancing measures.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Life for the Silver family right now can be politely described as "chaotic."

Jessica Silver and four of her kids are packed into a couple of cheap motel rooms. Her 5th child is forced to stay at a teen shelter in the next county.

Money, food and hope are running out.

"I mean, I'm making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a spoon in a bowl, right now," she said. "But it's better than no place to live at all."

Silver said was forced to flee a domestic violence situation. She was able to get a 30-day housing voucher for the motel, but it expires on Saturday.

After that, she and her kids have nowhere to go.

"The problem is they just don't have enough units," she said. "There's nothing for them to put us in."

There are long waits for family shelters all across western Washington, and that began long before coronavirus.

Now, shelters that do have room are forced to accept even fewer people because of social distancing requirements.

"This is a scary time," she said. "Now, my kids are out of school so I don't have child care, so I can't be working. It's just a big snowball that's very quickly going out of control."

Her situation is exposing gaping holes in our social safety net designed to protect mothers and children during times like these.

"It's even more heartbreaking because my kids don't deserve this," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "They're so strong and so resilient, but they shouldn't have to go through this at all."

Jessica spends much of her days on the phone pleading for help from social service agencies. She has notebooks full of names and phone numbers.

On Wednesday, she found one brief glimmer of hope. Her motel voucher had been extended -- but only for one more week -- the clock ticking once again for this and so many other families.

"Who can help us?" She wondered aloud. "I can't get out of this hole by myself." 

GoFundMe link to help the Silver family

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