GRANITE FALLS, Wash. — The search for a solution to our region's homeless problem is a difficult one, but a unique program in Snohomish County appears to be helping.
It involves buying RVs for people who are experiencing homelessness and making them actual homeowners.
The idea of giving mobile homes to people who are homeless can elicit images of derelict campers on the sides of neighborhood streets, but a Snohomish County nonprofit is proving that doesn't have to be the case.
Kristi Hamilton's new home is a used, 270-square-foot RV, complete with all the amenities most of us take for granted, like a bed.
"Since I've had this bed it's the best I've slept in a year," said Kristi. "It's heaven."
For the past year, Kristi had been sleeping in her van. She used to live in her own Marysville condo, but she lost her job and then debilitating medical conditions took hold, rendering her unable to work.
Unable to pay her bills, the condo was soon gone, and Kristi found herself in an entirely different world.
"I had people trying to open my van door at night. I had people strung out on drugs yelling and screaming at me," she said. "It was scary."
Enter Penelope Protheroe, president of Angel Resource Connection.
The nonprofit buys used motor homes and campers, then turn the titles over to people like Kristi, making them instant homeowners.
The organization has given homes to 11 individuals and families over the past year and a half. Participants in the program must be fully sober and have some source of reliable income.
Angel Resource Connection pays the first and last month's rent, then negotiates an affordable rent with a mobile home park which the homeowner will pay, moving forward.
"We have very strict rules, but we also have a philosophy of extreme generosity," said Protheroe. "We believe in giving people more than they're expecting, giving them their dignity back."
Those looking to sell or donate an RV must have the vehicle in good, clean, running shape.
The wait for affordable housing in Snohomish County is three to five years.
Kristi and her 16-year-old dog Benji got into their RV in just a matter of days.
They've been in their humble abode just two weeks, two weeks that have transformed their lives.
"What more could you ask for?" said Kristi with Benji at her feet. "I have security. I have a place to call home. I finally have a future."