Nearly two years later, Tiffany Charneski remembers exactly what she was doing March 31, 2016.
“I packed everything I could into a storage unit I couldn’t afford, and I left the rest,” she said recently.
The following day, she and her two children were homeless.
None of this was what she’d expected. A 7 1/2-year Army veteran who’d deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, Charneski had medically retired in 2014 with a service-related disability. She went to school to be a medical assistant, graduating in the top of her class while working part time at an auto-parts store.
Things unraveled. Her military education and housing allowances ended in December 2015. She took a job in sales, but childcare costs ate up virtually all her earnings. Her military disability pay was $1,850 a month; her apartment rent was $1,650.
One day, Charneski got terrible news: Her rent was about to increase $500 a month. She and her family had to leave.
For a couple weeks, they stayed with a friend. After that, they planned to live in her car. Desperate, Charneski told a veterans group on Facebook that they were “semi-homeless.”
“I said semi-homeless,” she said, “because I didn’t want to accept that I had failed.”
Charneski recently shared her story with Gov. Jay Inslee, housing groups and mayors from a dozen cities at a meeting convened by Inslee’s Results Washington team. The focus of the gathering: homelessness and affordable housing.
Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.