The Path to Homelessness May Not Be What You Think

Beth* grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, the third of four children and only girl. She came from a middle-class family with parents that were university graduates. High achievers, her brothers now are professionals working in Silicon Valley while Beth earned a nursing degree specializing in mental health and developmental disabilities. Her degree allowed her to work for California state and county hospitals while she raised her daughter as a single parent.

The Slide Down

When she moved to Oregon, Beth’s nursing license did not transfer and her income dropped by one-third of her previous wages. She attempted to go back to school but life kept getting in the way. Eventually, the 30 years in healthcare took a toll on her back. She had repeated injuries in her knees, developed problems in both ankles and battled with an autoimmune disorder. As she waited for disability payments, Beth ran out of money.

She no longer had a place to stay. Beth, a professional nurse, was homeless.

A woman suffering from homelessness sitting near a brick building, sadly looking down.

Demoralized and embarrassed to ask family and friends for help, Beth ended up living in her car. She struggled to find a place to shower, do laundry and go to the bathroom, especially at night. While she had her car for some safety, Beth often had to keep the windows shut during the hot days and nights of summer, sweating and facing heat exhaustion rather than open herself up to assault, theft and rape. The cramped space of the car took a toll on her body, exacerbating the painful health issues she was already battling.

The Longing for Home

Beth longed for a home, safety, rest. She remembers the house she grew up in, where her family lived for more than 30 years, making memories, being safe. That home was so far way now. As her resources, job, and health dried up Beth went from a professional nurse to living in her car.

When Beth called Connect, the short-term recovery program at Portland Rescue Mission, she didn’t know that there were resources available to help her.

Two women in community embracing.

Coming to Connect helped Beth take steps into a new life. What was overwhelming and hopeless became doable. With Connect staff, Beth was able to form a plan and take the steps necessary to more forward – find housing, employment, assistance with benefits, counseling.

Beth is so grateful for the kindness and guidance she found at Connect, “Having a safe place to stay and learn about resources has been huge. But also, the relationships formed during my time here as well as having the opportunity to give back and serve the community.”

Beth reminds us, “Don’t make assumptions. We all have a different story. Many of us are only a few paychecks away from homelessness. All it takes is a job loss or a medical issue.”

*name changed

Two women in Portland Rescue Mission’s recovery program embracing.

Beth found new life because restoration truly is possible for women experiencing homelessness in our community. They just need your support. Donate Today!

Give New Life