Number of children... 3
Ended homelessness... July 2015
"Scattered." That's the best word to describe Marie's situation when she first called Project Hope Alliance. As a single mother of three, nothing seemed stable. After fleeing from her abusive ex-husband and testifying against him, Marie and the kids entered the Witness Protection Program. Following his conviction, the family of four was ready for a fresh start, but how? With nowhere to go and no job to support them, it was all she could do to keep the children together and safe.
How do you regain your footing when the ground beneath you seems fluid and unsteady? Reeling from the trauma of their past, Marie's family bounced from one couch to the next, relying on the temporary hospitality of friends and family. With every night in a different zip code, back-to-school season came and went without fanfare.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all passed, swallowed up by the uncertainty of homelessness. In spite of the chaos around her, Marie continued to fight for family’s future. She applied for a highly-competitive housing voucher and identified the perfect home—a two-bedroom Anaheim apartment in a safe community. Even with her determination, sufficient credit history and a voucher, the idea of 'coming home' was still unattainable. The landlord would require first month's rent and a deposit before she could move in. While the voucher paid the cost of rent, this lump sum fell entirely on her shoulders. Marie did the math; $1375 in rent and a $500 deposit… Less than $2,000 stood between her family and their future. It could just as well have been a million dollars for the impossibility it presented.
Project Hope Alliance stepped into the gap. Chrissie, one of the organization's case managers, sat down with Marie and put together a plan. Paying first month's rent and deposit unlocked the door to a safe, stable home. The family's few belongings, tucked away in a storage unit, faced repossession, so the team worked to pay off the storage unit fees. A generous community member furnished the apartment with a couch, trash bins, lamps, dishes, utensils, and so much more.
Chrissie rallied resources to get the children enrolled in school and jumpstart their educational recovery. Therapeutic art workshops led them through the year's traumas; Tutors met with them to address severe academic gaps; School supplies, hygiene items and groceries stocked their apartment and cushioned the household budget.
Still, the children reeled from months out of school. They felt disconnected from their peers, ashamed of their academic shortcomings and insecure in the classroom.
Chrissie seized an opportunity to enroll the three kids in a college experience at UC Irvine. The day included a tour of the campus, recreational games with student volunteers, and even lunch in the cafeteria. Not only did the children interaction with kids their own age in a fun environment, they also began to envision themselves in a college setting. According to Marie, a turning point was reached.
The three kids are enthusiastic to return to school and meet their new teachers, and are excitedly making friends in. Today, the family is safe in their home—a place to enjoy meals together and to be together without the fear of violence. Marie's gratitude is evident—"God bless you all for truly being 'Earth Angels' to many families just like mine. We may be passing through a tough moment, but with [Project Hope Alliance] by our side we are given the chance to regain our confidence and become self-sufficient once again."