Dec. 12-31 is Avenues for Hope here in Idaho. Trinity New Hope and The House Next Door are doing several events together and we wrote stories about families we have accompanied.
FAMILY ONE – Trinity New Hope
The first family came to us in late 2015. They were a homeless family of seven made up of Mom, Dad, and five teenage girls. Everyone was living in two different vehicles. Four of the five children had disabilities and required a significant amount of assistance that was, and still is, quite costly. Mom literally had to stay home to take care of the family. Therefore, they were a one income home. The father had many challenges, because of the medical needs of his family, in trying to manage all of the expenses. Consequently, they lost their home two years prior. Yes, they had been homeless for two years prior to coming to Trinity New Hope!As a result of losing their home, the stability of having a home did not help his ability to maintain a job. At the time we met them, the father was working every temp to hire job he could get. But it was never enough to get started on getting into a home. That is where CATCH came in. Finally, someone was willing to help them get into a home. They just needed a housing provider to be a bit more flexible with their criteria and give them a chance. So, CATCH called us.Three years ago, we started out with this family who was very broken, lacked confidence, and always lived in constant fear of losing their home. The heart was there, but that fear made communication difficult for them. It also made it very difficult for housing providers to qualify them. However, as the property manager, I had a significant amount of experience working with individuals and families in a fragile state and I was willing to help them. What I saw from the father was a sincere heart and willingness to do what it took to make sure his family was in a safe place. I also saw someone who had heard “no” so many times, that he did not feel worthy of anything or anyone. My goal, was to change that.Now, after three years, the father has finally been given a full-time job that he has held for quite a long time now. He is trusted with a company truck because he lives in Canyon County and works in Boise. The eldest daughter is going to CWI; the second eldest daughter got married and has a home with her new husband; the mom has confidence in spades now and she partners with the property manager in doing whatever is required to maintain their housing. The girls have all learned, with some extra coaching from the property manager, how to help their mom keep their rooms clean, keep the laundry up, cook, and clean. These were all skills that they lacked because they had not had anything to take care of before. Ultimately, every month, every year, the family shows great progress and pride in what they have achieved. They have been able to consistently pay their rent and other bills, follow through with all of the annual paperwork for housing, and even buy a new-to-them 2010 car for her. She’s never had a car of her own and she is so proud of it.This family still has more goals they would like to accomplish and I am confident, that they will.
FAMILY TWO – Trinity New Hope
The second family was a single mother with four children: a teenager and three children all under the age of 8, at the time they moved in.
This mother came from a very violent domestic abuse situation and the level of fear was significant. She trusted no one and gave no one a chance to get near her to know her. As another CATCH family, she had an opportunity to get herself out of a very bad situation, but finding a home for her was a challenge. There were some significant credit issues, but they were not her burdens alone. The spouse had a lot of obligations he did not care to follow through with, so she was a victim of those poor choices. So, in early 2016, CATCH called us. They knew I liked to look at the whole picture of a family’s situation and not just focus on credit or rental history.Her goal was to finish beauty school and get her instructor’s license so that she could get one job that paid well. For all of the two years she has been with us, she has consistently maintained 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. And…this summer, she was able to get her instructor’s license. We are so very proud of her. This month, she let go two of her three extra jobs, gained another better paying job, and just works two jobs. Just works two…wow, amazing girl.This week, after having lived under constant fear and threat by the former spouse, she was able to find relief and peace because he is now facing a minimum of 12 years of prison time. The children are safe. She is safe. Her future has no limits.
The third family was a dad and mom, a teenage boy, a teenage girl, and two twin preteen girls.A year and a half ago, they heard about us from CATCH, but were on their waiting list, so there was no assistance. They used to be a very “well off” family with a 3500 square foot home, regular vacations, and just a comfortable and carefree life. Then the housing crash happened and by 2009 they had lost everything. They were in the construction business.They had bounced around from place to place and tried very hard to find a decent place to live, but did not have any success. They had been living in another very rural town in Idaho, but work was scarce and they still were not able to climb out of their financial debt that kept plaguing them and preventing them from achieving a stable home. The housing crash years prior had put their credit in a very bad way and no one was willing to give them a chance even though he had been able to procure a good job. They too were living in their vehicles and had over extended their stay at the local shelters. They were very beaten down about the situation and even more distraught about being a separated family because of shelter requirements. Ultimately, they just needed someone to give them one chance to prove that they will be good renters. That is where we came in and it has been a year and a half and they are thriving.The eldest son has graduated, the oldest daughter is focusing on art, the two teenage twins are stable and have made good friends, and the parents are both working very stable jobs. They are making ends meet, paying off their credit debt, and are finally letting go of the fear that they are going to lose their home. They have a goal again of owning their own home, but know it is going to be a long road. Fortunately, they have committed themselves wholeheartedly to making that happen.
Finally, the last family was a single mom with five children: One teenage boy and all others under the age of 8.The mom had always been required by her husband to stay home and take care of the children, not allowed to work outside the home. Additionally, he never put her name on any mortgage contract or anything else to allow her to build any type of good credit. Conversely though, the credit that was connected to her was the bad credit choices he made by putting the utilities in her name and not making the payments. On top of all of this, she was a victim of domestic violence. Besides the oppression, the abuse was significant. In this case though, she had been homeless for a year and had been trying to break away from him for four years. But he had been tying her hands on everything in legal battles. Even her ability to work was and is affected because she had crazy restrictions from a judge that prevented her from being away from the children longer than two hours at any given time, on any day of the week, unless they were in his care.Finally, CATCH activated her on their waiting list and called us. CATCH got her started. Even though she is STILL plagued by insane restrictions with her divorce and custody battle, she has been doing well in the last 9 months she has been with us. She says she has not felt this safe in a very long time. She still has a long way to go on her journey, but there is no doubt she will get there.
Sandi heard about The House Next Door from a mom who used to live here. She was couch surfing with her 2 kids, desperately trying to find a safe, reliable, and affordable place to live. Sandi had started her GED years ago but then the test scoring changed, and she lost the progress she had made. But she never let go of the dream of completing her GED one day.
Just a few weeks after moving into The House Next Door, you could see that a lot of Sandi’s tension had disappeared. She shared with us that, “Just having a safe space to live has let me breathe and has brought peace to my life. Now I am able to focus on the things I need to focus on like school, work, and spending quality time with my kids.”
Sandi began working on her GED and within a few months had already passed half of the tests. She was able to take her kids on a family trip to see out-of-state relatives they hadn’t seen in years. Her work, school, and family life merged into a healthier balance.
We are proud of the progress Sandi has made. But the real beauty is that Sandi is proud of her own progress and knows with the continued support of The House Next Door she will be able to complete her GED.
The House Next Door – Two
Allison found The House Next Door through her social worker. She had been living with family in a run-down trailer that was overly cramped and not very safe for her 1-year old son. After Allison visited The House and interviewed, she was determined to come live here. She just seemed to sense that the community aspect of The House was something she not only needed, but an addition to her life that she longed for. Like many of the mothers who come to live at The House Next Door, Allison told us, “I’m excited to live in a place with other single moms who get what I’m going through. I want to learn from them; and hopefully I have something I can share with them too.”
Allison was spot on about how community can help us thrive. The shared experiences of the mothers living at The House Next Door allow them to support and encourage one another not only in the good times, but especially in the hard times. It didn’t take long before Allison felt she had a better handle on being a mother and pursuing school. We could see her confidence blossoming along with her ability to hope for a better future.
This is one of the joys of working with these mothers. As we accompany them on their journeys, we get to witness the many transformations as they grow and learn, beaming with new skills and a healthy self-worth. Allison recently shared with us, “I’m just so grateful for this program. I will say I have been able to work through any problems I have had and am sure I can do so in the future.”
House Next Door – Three
Esperanza was bouncing from homeless shelter to homeless shelter and was on as many housing lists as possible. She was also in recovery and working to regain custody of her daughter.
She found out about The House Next Door at one of the shelters she was staying at and immediately came over to our office. She picked up an application and got herself enrolled to complete her GED. She was extremely grateful for just the opportunity to apply to live at a safe and community-focused place like The House Next Door. Esperanza kept saying, “Even if I don’t get to live here, you have changed my life so much already. I have confidence now that I can get my GED and more.”
Esperanza worked hard – hard at school, hard at recovery, hard at 2 jobs, and hard to regain full custody of her daughter. We walked alongside her in the joys and the challenging days, giving her hope and encouragement that she could get through both. Soon, Esperanza became the source of encouragement and the you-can-do-it-even-when-it’s-super-hard attitude for the other mothers living at The House.
Barely a year later, she had completed half her GED, significantly reduced her debt and improved her credit score, had regained custody of her daughter, was still sober, and moved into her own 2-bedroom apartment. She had accomplished and grown so much that it was hard to see her leave, even though we were extremely proud of her, and so happy for her to continue her journey.
Give to Trinity New Hope: https://www.avenuesforhope.org/organizations/trinity-new-hope
Give to The House Next Door: https://www.avenuesforhope.org/organizations/the-house-next-door