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New, promising program fights homelessness with homework assignments

SEATTLE – Patricia Perez is rewriting her life.

And the essay she is writing is getting the 35-year-old closer to a college degree.

“There is an opportunity to get a lot right,” Perez said.

An opportunity for a new beginning, something that seemed impossible even three years ago.

“I started using meth and heroin,” Perez said.

She struggled with addiction for most of her life. It landed her in jail and on the streets.

“Since methamphetamine was my drug of choice I would stay up for days and roam the streets,” Perez said.

Like many people struggling with addiction she refused help.

“You get stuck in the bottom and can’t see your way out like being in the dark tunnel,” Perez said.

Eventually with the help of the Union Gospel Mission she found the courage to change.

“You can’t get back time all we have is today,” Perez said.

She sobered up but  now she wants more. Perez is one of 25 people who are on the way to graduating from the Northwest University.

“Reading her first paper to her last you wouldn’t recognize it was the same person,” Paul LaRose with the Union Gospel Mission said.

LaRose pushed for the partnership with Northwest so that homeless people at Union Gospel could get their college degrees.

He says many homeless people have nothing to fall back on without an education.

“The city is affected if we don’t do something,” LaRose said.

He’s fighting homelessness with homework assignments. So Perez will have many more essays to write and she’s looking forward to that graduation day

“I am expected to graduate in January 2018,” Perez said.

She will obtain an Associates Degree and with that Perez could move on to a 4 year university. Perez says she wants to eventually work in prison ministries helping other women overcome addiction.