My daughter and I have been homeless and struggling with housing stability for over a year. While working a part-time minimum wage job in Washington County, it was difficult to make ends meet. I hoped to live close to work, but it was so hard to find affordable housing.
I was 4 months pregnant and couch-hopping for two months. I then moved into temporary housing for 3 months and stayed in emergency shelter at a hotel in between housing. I was then accepted into the Home Again Program, to help me with affordable housing, while going back to school at National American University for paralegal studies.
Due to the help I was able to get from Washington County, East Metro Women's Council and St. Andrew's Community Resource Center, we now have a place to call home. We were provided emergency shelter while doing a housing search. St. Andrew's then helped me negotiate with the landlord, so I could secure housing.
With the help received, I'm now able to focus more on school and establishing a home for my daughter.
My name is Connie. I am 54. After a divorce I worked and raised my children. I had always struggled with depression but after my kids left it became more difficult to manage. I was hospitalized for the first time when I was 49. I tried returning to work but I was still struggling to manage my mental health and lost my job--which meant I also lost my housing. I stayed with friends and family but could not stay anywhere long term. I slept in my car and would go to truck stops, feeling safe with other people around. My mental illness was still not in control and I was hospitalized again 9 months after my first hospitalization. My case manager introduced me to staff at Human Services Inc. and because I was homeless I was eligible for Mosaic Homes. I have been there three years now. I have my own apartment that I share with a roommate. The staff listen when I need to talk to someone. We go over my plans and goals to get me back on my feet. I have learned to be more assertive about what I need to stay healthy. I enjoy reading, walking, visiting with friends and family. . I also volunteer providing personal care services to assist two elderly sisters. When I am stronger I would like to be a personal care attendant. This housing has saved my life. I now feel I have a future. We need more housing like this in our county. I know there are others in my same situation.
Kevin and Charlene's Story
Our family has been homeless 2 times in the last 3 years. Our world began to collapse when the economy began to slow down in the summer of 2007. I, Kevin, had a successful 25 year engineering/construction administration career and earned a nice income, which allowed our family to live comfortably. My hardworking wife, Charlene, managed our active household with 4 daughters and worked a part time catering job each weekend. It all came to an end with the loss of my job. I was also dealing with addiction issues and Charlene could no longer work due to a debilitating mental health issue. We went through our savings and borrowed as much money as possible from family and friends in order to try and keep our White Bear Lake home and keep our kids in Mahdomedi Schools. Desperate and out of money, we lost our home in May 2009 and had nowhere to go...we were homeless!
We were accustomed to helping others, so asking for help was very difficult. Family and friends didn't have room for all 6 of us. The county provided us with emergency shelter in a motel for 3 months along with food assistance and help moving into a rental home in August 2009, which we couldn't really afford. We were evicted by April 2010 for lack of payment. Again homeless, we moved in with Charlene's mother in her one bedroom senior retirement cottage for 6 weeks...all six of us! As soon as management discovered we were there, we had to leave, a violation of her lease.
With the clothes on our backs and our belongings scattered over 3 - 4 garages, we again moved back to the motel for 4 months, until we found a landlord who would accept an unemployed family with poor credit history, unlawful detainer and receiving county assistance in July 2010. We have survived almost one year, however, only with extensive help from the county and numerous social agencies (St. Andrew's Community Resource Center being a particular blessing). Charlene is successfully treating her depression and I am proud to say that I'm in recovery and have been "clean" for 14+ months. We desperately want to provide stability for our daughters and help them stay in their same schools. With community support around us, we now feel like we can face these challenges with honor, integrity and hope.