Ms. Faith finds a home!
By the time Ms. Faith* found her way to the crochet class at Bread for the City’s SE Center, she was under a lot of stress. While usually reserved about her personal life, Ms. Faith chose that day to open up to Bread for the City staff member Judy Hawkins, who teaches the crochet class, about her situation.
Ms. Faith was out of work and living in her car with her husband and two children. Her only income was $531 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to support her entire family. While she and her husband were both enrolled in job readiness programs, it was still very difficult to balance taking care of her children, focusing on the program requirements, and moving her car around from place to place in search of a relatively safe, quiet place to park for the night.
When Judy heard Ms. Faith’s story, she connected her to Bread for the City’s Southeast Housing Preservation Project (SHPP) for housing assistance and case management services. Ms. Faith met one-on-one with the SHPP case manager to talk about her housing situation and gain support to help stabilize her family. In Ms. Faith’s eyes, SHPP planted a seed.
Throughout her time in the program, Ms. Faith’s seed began to be watered. When her car started to break down, she had to find alternative transportation but she had not ridden the bus or taken the Metro in years. She had very little knowledge about bus routes, metro lines, or SmartTrip cards. Through case management, Ms. Faith received tokens to travel to her appointments.
One day, Ms. Faith came to Bread’s SE Center asking about a SmartTrip card, as tokens are helpful but only work for the bus. Her SHPP case manager was informed that another client had just donated a few SmartTrip cards to Bread for the City. Not only was Ms. Faith able to get a SmartTrip card that day, but she was also able to meet and hug the fellow client who donated them. While a seemingly simple item- a metro card- it made such a huge impact on Ms. Faith’s life! She could now get around the city without worrying about her car breaking down.
Throughout all of the transitions of living out of her car, Ms. Faith misplaced her ID. Her SHPP case manager was able to make an appointment for her to go to Foundry United Methodist Church to receive the funds to pay for her non-drivers ID. Through this appointment, her new SmartTrip card, and a discussion with her case manager about what additional proofs she needed, she was able to secure a new ID.
Through a friend, Ms. Faith heard about an affordable apartment building with vacancies so she applied for a two-bedroom unit, using her brand new ID. The rent would be $550/month plus gas and electric. This was more than Ms. Faith’s TANF, however, the job readiness program that she and her husband attended, provided a $75 weekly stipend if they worked 20 hours or more a week towards job readiness. With this additional income, they could just barely afford the rent with a little money left for other living expenses. Ms. Faith applied and was approved for the apartment. The only barrier was providing the security deposit and first month’s rent totaling $1,100.
Our SHPP case manager informed Ms. Faith about Emergency Rental Assistance Programs (ERAP), a program that helps pay for some of those costs. After phone calls to seven different ERAP organizations and many voicemails later, Ms. Faith finally got a call back from The Salvation Army. She scheduled an appointment and met multiple times with the Salvation Army over the next 4 weeks. After weeks of patience and many follow up calls, Ms. Faith was finally approved to receive the funds to pay for most of the security deposit and first month rent.
After much coordination, Ms. Faith was able to sign a lease for the apartment! Now she and her family had keys in hand and a safe place to live.
Through all the excitement, Ms. Faith exclaimed, “I cannot wait to put food in my refrigerator! And cook in my kitchen! And make dinner for my kids!” Through lots of hard work, patience, support and encouragement from her Bread for the City SHPP case manager, Ms. Faith and her family now have a place to call home.
One of her favorite sayings is, “When you plant a seed, you get a harvest.” Ms. Faith believes the seed that was planted at the beginning of case management found the water it needed to grow at Bread for the City. Now she has a harvest!
*name changed for confidentiality