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'The only thing I can control is myself': Homeless Spokane family overcomes unique challenges during pandemic

Becca Wells and her eight-year-old son were one of the first families at the Open Doors shelter to contract the virus. They have since recovered.

SPOKANE, Wash. — At the beginning of November, Family Promise in Spokane reported 17 cases of COVID-19 in its shelters. It is now reporting a total of 35 guests and three staff have tested positive.

Most all have recovered and are no longer in quarantine.

Becca Wells and her eight-year-old son were one of the first families at the Open Doors shelter to contract the virus.

She said it is likely they got the virus from another family at the shelter. They quarantined in a hotel provided by the health department.

"It was not easy at times, because I've got two boys [who] were rambunctious and want to run around and play, but at the same time, we're needing to isolate," Wells said.

The single mom of three children became homeless in March, at the start of the pandemic.

"Just that level of uncertainty of going, 'Oh, my gosh, I went from having a place to live to now I'm here'," Wells said.

For a time, they stayed at the Union Gospel Mission, just as the world shut down.

"While we were there, there was next to nothing that we could do as far as getting out of our homeless situation," Wells said. "Because everything else was locked down to when people were trying to figure out, 'How do we serve and help during this pandemic?'."

In June, they moved to the Open Doors shelter, operated by Family Promise of Spokane.

Wells said both shelters enforced social distancing, but sharing space with several other families was not easy.

"It's hard to tell your kids that they can't go over there and play with those kids from that family, because we're supposed to be social distancing," Wells said.

Meantime, she was also doing everything she could to find a home for her family. She took responsible renters courses and searched for apartments.

But on November 5, Wells and her son tested positive for COVID-19. Anyone would be discouraged by all this, but she kept pressing on.

"I am a very high-spirited person," Wells said. "Through all of this my mantra has been, 'It is what it is, and it ain't what it ain't. The only thing I can control is myself'."

It's been nearly a month since she contracted the virus. Wells and her son are now fully recovered and completed their two weeks of quarantine. She even secured an apartment for her family.

"(It feels) so amazing!" Wells said. "To be able to know that my kids are going to have a place to call their own and for me to be able to have a space to call my own, it feels good, and it feels rewarding."

She signed the lease Wednesday, and once again, she has place to call her own.