New Housing Hope board member, Kristina Jorgensen brings real-life perspective that is proving invaluable to the agency.

New Housing Hope board member, Kristina Jorgensen brings real-life perspective that is proving invaluable to the agency.

New Housing Hope board member was homeless herself

Picture a member of a board of directors. The person might be a familiar face in business, or a doctor, lawyer, or well-known volunteer.

Picture a meth addict, a homeless mother whose kids were taken away by the state’s Child Protective Services. She once slept in a drug house or on a park bench.

It’s not impossible for that woman in the second picture, the homeless mom, to rise from addiction and join the board of a respected local agency.

Kristina Jorgensen, 27, recently joined Housing Hope’s board of directors. The Everett-based agency has a nearly 30-year history of providing affordable housing and other help in Snohomish County.

Serving on the board isn’t Jorgensen’s greatest accomplishment. In October 2014, she successfully completed Family Drug Treatment Court. The Snohomish County Superior Court program provides weekly court hearings, access to chemical dependency treatment and other assistance to help parents achieve recovery and stability — and get their children back.

Jorgensen, now in her third year of freedom from active addiction, is again raising her boys: 11-year-old Christian, Ashton, 3, and Jailen, 2. She works three jobs, rents a duplex near Everett’s Silver Lake, and studies political science at Everett Community College.

Originally from Sultan, she has come far from the chaos of her younger years. Pregnant at 15, she was married and living in Texas by 16. The marriage didn’t last, and by 21 she was back home and involved with an old friend who had become a heroin addict.

Telling herself she could help him, she instead got hooked on meth. And despite a new baby, she continued using drugs.

“I was living in insanity,” Jorgensen said, describing how she would stay up all night and neglect to get her older boy to school. “During those years, the Xbox parented my child.”

As things got worse, reports were made to CPS. She pawned possessions for drug money. She stole from her mother, who eventually gained temporary custody of Jorgensen’s two older sons. Her third boy was born after she had kicked her drug habit.

While working her way through drug court, she was still homeless. But by June 2014, with the help of a social worker, Jorgensen had moved into a Housing Hope apartment in Monroe. The agency’s programs helped her gain stability. Serving on the board lets Jorgensen share her struggles in a way that offers hope to others.

“Let’s have people who have experienced these things help at the policy level,” she said over coffee Thursday.

Sara Haner, Housing Hope’s events and marketing manager, said the agency has had several past board members who experienced homelessness.

“The way Kristina has overcome so much and then experienced so much success is our hope for all of our residents,” said Fred Safstrom, CEO of Housing Hope. Homelessness and addiction aren’t just concepts for Jorgensen.

“In each decision and discussion, she brings the perspective of our residents that nobody else can,” Safstrom said. “It takes courage and strength to stand on your own among a high-powered board, and Kristina does a marvelous job.”

As part of the 19-member board, she attends monthly meetings, is on a services committee, and has spoken at Housing Hope events.

She has three employers, which together approximate a full-time job. She works for the YWCA in Everett as a parent ally; she does research for the Children’s Home Society of Washington; and through work-study, she is a fellow with the Washington Defender Association helping on an incarcerated parent project.

In Olympia, Safstrom said, Jorgensen has lobbied to help lawmakers better understand poverty and homelessness. She is a parent ally on the Washington State Parent Advocacy Committee and serves with the Snohomish County Parent Advocacy Committee, helping families navigate the child welfare system.

“When I was using, I hated my life. I didn’t know my purpose,” Jorgensen said.

With joy, she sees how her boys are thriving. Her oldest son is doing well in school and plays sports. She’s excited to show him the EvCC campus.

“I’m a living example that people do change, and families reunite,” Jorgensen said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
On Juneteenth: ‘We can always say that there is hope’

The Snohomish County NAACP is co-sponsoring a celebration Saturday near Snohomish, with speakers, music and food.

Granite Falls
Man, 35, dies from heart attack while hiking Lake 22

The man suffered a heart attack about 1½ miles into the 6-mile hike east of Granite Falls on Friday, authorities said.

36 hours after final show, Everett radio host Charlye Parker, 80, dies

When Parker got into radio, she was a rarity: a woman in a DJ booth. For the past 12 years, she hosted weekend country music shows at KXA.

Homeowners Jim and Chris Hall stand beneath their new heat pump, at right, inside their Whidbey Island home on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2023, near Langley, Washington. The couple, who are from Alaska, have decreased their use of their wood burning stove to reduce their carbon footprint. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County to start ‘kicking gas’ in push for all-electric homes

Last year, 118 Whidbey Island homes installed energy-efficient heat pumps. A new campaign aims to make the case for induction stoves now, too.

Dr. Scott Macfee and Dr. Daniel Goodman outside of the Community Health Center on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett CHC doctors, feeling like ‘commodities,’ speak up on ailing system

At the Community Health Center of Snohomish County, doctors say they feel like “rats getting off a sinking ship.” They want it to get better.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Man charged with shooting at ex-girlfriend, child in Mountlake Terrace

The man, 21, showed up to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and opened fire through the door, new court records say.

People walk along Olympic Avenue past Lifeway Cafe and Olympic Theater that currently hosts Lifeway Church on Friday, July 7, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington churches waged covert ‘battle’ against Pride event, records show

Sermons, emails and interviews reveal how an LGBTQ+ nonprofit became the target of a covert campaign by local evangelical leaders.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.