Beginning in May 29, 2012, William and Amber were living at DC General with their young daughter Amirah. “DC General is not a place for children to grow up,” William always said, yet this small family was facing hard times. As much as they could, they sheltered Amirah from the discomforts of their daily life by letting her visit her grandparents, her cousins and half-sister, even Chuck E. Cheese’s. While Amirah watched Dora and Diego on TV and attended play time, William and Amber struggled to find affordable housing. William spent his free time trying to learn how to get a Section 8 housing voucher, but between being underemployed at his custodial position and disheartened from living in the shelter, he often found himself deeply depressed. Amber found herself equally downtrodden after long days working at McDonald’s and dealing with her back pain and Amirah’s eczema.
That December, in the midst of hypothermia season, William and Amber’s family were referred to THC’s Rapid Rehousing program. Nicole Franklin, their case manager, remembers them as a strong, tenacious, but skeptical couple. “You could tell that they had been disappointed by their circumstances and wanted more but just didn’t know how to go about it.” Their circumstances were their biggest challenges: Amber had debt from college, both had minor criminal records, and their lack of education made job-hunting difficult. Although they were loving, protective parents, they needed a safe space to raise Amirah and give her the stability she needed.
In February, they entered the Rapid Rehousing Program, and by March, they chose an apartment of their own. Through the program, they assessed their weaknesses and strengths and set one year goals. They worked with Nicole to identify their support systems, like Amber’s parents and sisters. All these elements ensured they had a holistic and practical strategy to maintaining stable housing and obtaining full-time employment. As Nicole shares, “William stepped up as the head of the family and accepted success into his life; all that did was trickle down through the rest of the family.” With the emotional and physical security of their own space, William was successfully able to find full-time employment as a janitor and Amber is pursuing a future in hair and cosmetology. Amirah, now five, finally has a place of her own.
Rapid Rehousing offers families a foundation, a future, and, most importantly, a home. While the majority of families in THC’s programs are single-parent households, double-parent households (like William and Amber) often find themselves homeless after a sudden loss of income or a family crisis. For families, homelessness perpetuates a cycle of constant underemployment, depression, and exhaustion. William and Amber were hard-working, tenacious, and, as Nicole recalls, “determined to be better not just for themselves but for their daughter.” Two years ago, they had nowhere to go. With a place to call home, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Every family deserves a place to call home.
You can help a family like that of William and Amber on their path to making transformational changes in their lives. Make a year end contribution at thcdc.org/donate.
Post by Christine Janumala