Access to housing, employment and health care gives Yakima resident a second chance
Monique Rodriguez has lived in Yakima for over fifteen years. She works two jobs, and she has her own apartment. She walks with confidence and is friendly to everyone around her. She plans to go back to school in the future. For Monique, it was a long journey to get here.
Not long ago, Monique suffered from both homelessness and a substance use disorder. Without a stable place to call home, she couldn't focus on getting better. Survival was the immediate need.
“When you don’t have housing, you don’t have the structure needed to help you do what you need to do to move forward. It’s easier to focus on other things when there’s a roof over your head,” said Monique, speaking of her experience on the street.
Because Monique qualified for Washington Apple Health (Medicaid), she was also eligible for the Foundational Community Supports (FCS) program, administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority. The FCS program uses Medicaid dollars to connect people with sustainable housing and permanent jobs – supporting individuals in the areas of life they need to get healthy and stay healthy.
A caseworker at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services helped Monique write a resume, coached her as she filled out job applications, and offered tips for how to conduct herself in job interviews. The caseworker also connected her to affordable housing and got her started in a substance use treatment program.
Now that she has a stable environment, Monique is focusing on her long term goals. She feels better about herself, and even has a relationship with her son now – something she didn't have when she was homeless.
“[The FCS program] helped me learn to be responsible,” Monique reflected. “Now I want to go back to school to learn to be a chemical dependency counselor and help others. I couldn't think about that before – you can’t go to school if you’re up all night looking for a safe place to sleep.”
Monique still has friends in Yakima’s unhoused community. Many of them hang out in front of Yakima Neighborhood Health, where Monique now works as a custodian. She encourages her unhoused friends to apply for the FCS program.
“I tell them, give it a try, it’s worth it. But you have to give it effort. It will do good for you if you give it a chance.”
To find out more about the Foundational Community Supports program and how it plays a part in transforming Medicaid, visit the Healthier Washington webpage.