I usually use this blog to highlight the successes our clients have experienced. The last couple weeks have been no exception. We’ve had one family move to permanent housing, two families move to transitional housing, one mom got a promotion, a married couple both found work at Hard Rock Café and one mom graduated from CNA School.
With the newly open rooms comes the task of interviewing new families. The families I met with really needed a prevention program, not a shelter program. They were behind in rent, but not yet evicted. It is so much easier (and costs less) to try to keep someone in housing rather than bring them in shelter and start from scratch.
One woman that I met is a couple of months behind in her rent. She has lost hope that she will be able to get caught up, so was trying to make some arrangement for shelter. She has been working for over 6 months at a security company on third shift. She has a friend who watches her daughter so she can work overnight. She started getting behind while trying to pay off some speeding tickets. When she wasn’t able to pay them off, her license was suspended. Since the bus doesn’t run at night, she has to have her car to get to work. Then her car didn’t pass emissions check to get her tags renewed. She’s had to spend her last several pay checks to try to get the car repaired so it will pass emissions check. So instead of using her income to pay her rent, she’s been trying to take care of her car issues so that she can keep her job. Her apartment complex is trying to work with her, but they won’t give her too much longer. We brainstormed some ideas– checking with community agencies to see if they will help with rent or utilities, looking for a weekend job and even trying to see if some of her speeding tickets can be reduced. I have worked with the apartment manager for her complex before, so will be able to check and see how much time she has left and how much they will work with her to pay her back rent. Hopefully her story will have a successful ending without her entering the shelter. So many times we think that families have made really bad decisions that lead up to homelessness. This family is an example of a family that is doing everything right, with the exception of speeding, and has really just ended up in a hard place.
It is much easier and less costly to help families, like this one, before they become homeless and need to enter the shelter. We are working here at Safe Haven to look at how we can help these families—connect them to resources—and work to prevent families with children from becoming homeless.
Jennifer Reason, LBSW is the Program Director at Safe Haven Family Shelter.