One woman’s journey to beat homelessness in Seattle

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SEATTLE -- Since February, Seattle has conducted 32 sweeps of unsanctioned homeless camps across Seattle.

The city says the good news is that more people are accepting help and services to get off the streets.

The city's homeless "navigation team" has been reaching out to people on the streets, repeatedly offering services and housing. So far this year, they say, they have made more than 1,800 contacts with more than 600 people.

One of those people is Rebecca Massey. She’s a 46-year-old who says a series of events made her homeless, including someone stealing her car and she missed rent payments.

For the past year she's lived in a car, a tent, a trailer and unsanctioned homeless camps.

Q13 News first met Massey under a bridge nearly two months ago at a site of a homeless encampment deemed unsafe.

In April, the city came in and swept the Sodo camp under the bridge, giving Massey an option for housing but she didn’t take it.

“I would be isolated from the people I feel like I am family with,” Massey said.

Since then, Q13 News has been following along on her journey.

Her group roamed the city, hunkering anywhere they could find until someone told them they couldn’t occupy the space.

They moved three times in one month. Most recently Massey found herself in a trailer in South Park.

“Just sitting there thinking what am I am going to do,” Massey said.

She is still asking the same question but with more hope.

On Thursday, she showed us around Camp Second Chance, a sanctioned homeless encampment.

Massey finally took the city's offer to try out the transitional housing.

“We have a community, kitchen and refrigerators,” Massey said.

They also have a place to shower and find clothes for job interviews.

“Eight percent of the people here work; if you look around; they are at work,” Camp Second Chance founder Eric Davis said.

Massey says she initially didn’t take the city’s help, worried she would lose her freedom and lose the community she had built with other homeless people.

“From day one we are family; we tell them we love you and there is nothing you can do about it,” Davis said.

But the sanctioned camp comes with rules. There is a curfew and no drugs and alcohol allowed.

“I think it’s important to have structure and people following the rules,” Massey said.

Massey likes the rules.

But she’s had to leave behind others who could not get entry because of drug use.

“I was offered drugs on a daily basis so it’s hard not to give in,” Massey said.

Massey says she never fell into the pitfalls of drugs. Her biggest hurdle now is finding a steady job and saving enough money to beat homelessness.

“I am not scared anymore, I think this is what I need to move forward,” Massey said.

Camp Second Chance has been around for about a year. Davis says about eight people have found steady jobs and saved up enough money to move out. The camp started with several people and, as of Thursday, they have 52 people. Davis says there is room for more. The camp is working on upgrading tents to tiny homes.

Massey is hoping the city will create more low-barrier encampments where homeless people addicted to drugs can live and receive treatment.

Above is a video of an interview with Rebecca Massey.