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On the Road to Homeownership

When Leana’s daughter was 2 years old, she was told by the father of her daughter to pack up and leave. “He felt that I was becoming too dependent on him,” says Leana. “He said that since I stayed at home to take care of our daughter I was not really working and contributing to the family.”

Leana and her daughter stayed with friends and relatives for several months. Without a job, a car, and nowhere else to go, Leana eventually decided to go to a family shelter.

Leana stayed at the family shelter for a year. “At times, I would get frustrated with my living situation,” she says. “It’s not easy raising a daughter in a shelter,” she continues. “I kept reminding myself that this was just temporary.” With the support of her case manager and the employment director, Leana began an aggressive job search.

During her job search, Leana slipped and fractured her ankle. While she was at the hospital, she received two phone calls from possible employers. “I didn’t allow the accident to be a setback for me,” she says. “I wrapped my foot in a plastic bag and kept going.” Leana interviewed for a mailroom position and was offered the job. “I look at myself now compared to four years ago and it puts one big smile on my face,” Leana laughs.

Leana now lives in her own apartment and is in a program called “Homelessness to Homeownership.”

“With the support of my case manager and a constant focus on my goals, I no longer have a hard time saving money.” She continues, “To know that the money I save will go toward buying my own home is an incredible feeling!”

Building Stability

For 20 years, George put roofs on other people’s homes until one day he lost the roof over his own. When the economy soured, so did the company’s business. Eventually it closed, and George was out of a job. His journey into homelessness began with a “For Rent” sign outside his home. It marked the start of two years without a warm place to sleep.

One day he packed three duffel bags and headed for the woods. He spent the next two years there. “Homelessness is like a deep hole you can’t climb out of.” George did not have a drinking problem before he lost his home; but while living outside, he began drinking heavily. “Drinking makes the day go by,” George explains. “Once you’re caught in that rut, it’s hard to get out.”

Slowly, his life began to turn around. At the shelter where he slept nearly every night for two winters, George signed up to be placed in housing. Four months later, a nonprofit group found an apartment for him to share. The apartment gave him stability and returned his self-esteem, he explained. With a roof over his head, he quit drinking. “I make sure my rent is paid,” George says.

What does housing mean to him? “I got everything back,” he said. “I can go into the kitchen to cook something to eat, take a shower, put in a job application. What can’t you do?”

George volunteers at a food pantry or the hypothermia shelter where he used to go to get out of the cold. “There’s people out there that’s worse off than me.”

Resident honored by “Training Futures” program

A New Hope Housing case manager shared this story about a client she served:

“Working as a case manager with New Hope Housing, it’s sometimes difficult for me not to be disheartened by the lack of progress that I feel my clients have made. I hope that the following story reminds us all to RELISH and RECOGNIZE the accomplishments of residents.

In the Partnership for Permanent Housing, we recently had a resident graduate from the Training Futures program, an intensive six-month program. The resident, “Esther”, graduated on February 2nd and was nominated for Training Future’s Leadership Award. The Leadership Award is voted on by the entire training class and honors the person that they think has best displayed leadership qualities throughout the training cycle.

Not only was Esther given the Leadership Award, but she was also asked to share her inspirational story with all the graduates and graduation guests. She gave a moving testimony, citing William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus”, and spoke about rising above circumstances to take control of her future.

I have had the opportunity to witness Esther blossoming into a more confident and self-assured individual. She is no longer afraid of public speaking, and she has opened her heart to others in the class by helping them strengthen their computer skills. She is striving for greatness and is well on her way to putting her past behind her. Gone are the days when she became homeless because she had been laid off from her job (a few days after Christmas) as a single mother and unable to afford the rent any longer, was evicted. Gone are the days that she and her son spent at the Mondloch family shelter. She now has an entirely new outlook on life and is hopeful for what her future holds.”