Number Of Children... 1
Ended Homelessness... August 2015
Sometimes a 'fresh start' does not begin as crisply as planned.
Such is the case of Rashida Frazier and her 7-year-old daughter Alaia. When the duo moved from Fresno to Orange County, their goal was to make a new life together. However, the single mother's income failed to meet rental approval requirements, which are alarmingly high in the region.
Orange County's cost of living is 46% higher than the national average. To afford a one-bedroom unit in Orange County, a worker must make $24.67 per hour, and a minimum-wage worker must work 110 hours per week.*
For three taxing years, the Fraziers found themselves faced with homelessness in Orange County, bouncing between hotels and shelters, and moving into crammed living spaces with other families.
During this time, Rashida worked two jobs to support her small family. Unstable living conditions paired with erratic hours and slightly above minimum wage pay made for a cycle of hardships. She earned $10.60 per hour as a housecleaner at a four-star hotel in Orange County, and $9.75 per hour as a caregiver, working 40 to 64 hours per week collectively.
But who would care for her when a work-related fall at the hotel resulted in severe, debilitating injuries, including a dislocated knee cap, torn cartilage, and a potentially torn elbow ligament?
No longer able to work, Rashida underwent surgeries while anxiously waiting for her employer to make special accommodations to allow for her return. Her disability pay totaled less than $850 per month.
Alaia not only experienced stress and academic impediments due to her insecure living conditions, she also experienced racism in the classroom. The young learner suffered difficulties with reading especially, and she met mostly closed arms when attempting to make friends at school. Always in her daughter's corner, Rashida became aware of the racial discrimination toward Alaia, and helped her process her feelings to avoid succumbing to unfortunate bigotry.
The resilient, patient pair struggled with their situation until Project Hope Alliance stepped in to uplift and support them. Chrissie, one of our amazing case managers, sat down with the Fraziers to listen and develop a plan to help them overcome homelessness. Through our Family Stability Program, we were able to rapidly rehouse them by locating accommodating apartments and supplementing their Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher with first month's rent and deposit. Although Rashida had applied for the voucher about eight years prior, Chrissie advised her to update the Orange County Housing Authority with her disability status, as applicants with disabilities are prioritized in the system. Rashida acted immediately, and received the voucher in about one month!
Generous donors from the community helped furnish the family's new apartment, and we connected Rashida with the Salvation Army and Goodwill to obtain vouchers for additional furnishings.
On August 22, 2015, Rashida and her daughter ended homelessness.
"After being unstably housed for years, it is wonderful that the family finally has a place of their own," says Chrissie.
With a stable home, enrollment in a new school, tutoring support, and her own hard work and determination, Alaia has achieved improvements in both academics and social interaction. To help nurture her progress at school, Project Hope Alliance introduced her to School on Wheels, a partnering organization that links students with volunteers for one-on-one weekly tutoring. Alaia has grown very fond of her tutor, who, according to Rashida, helps her focus, and creates inventive, entertaining, and effective lessons. Alaia also participated in UC Irvine's Expressive Robotics program, which afforded her the opportunity to apply math and science concepts—and build a robot!
Project Hope Alliance also enrolled Alaia in a ballet program, where she was able to engage with and make new friends.
Most recently, Alaia joined our innovative new Bright Start Pilot Program, which incorporates Waterford Early Learning academic curriculum, Every Monday Matters inspirational curriculum, supportive mentoring, and take-home laptops to fill educational gaps and inconsistencies both inside and outside of the classroom.
Rashida continues treatments on her injuries, and after more than two years, her employer has placed her in a new position that accommodates her physical limitations.
Appreciative of our help and the community's support, the Fraziers have remained committed to our programs and have participated in numerous Project Hope Alliance events, including workshops, field trips, and holiday parties.
Rashida and Alaia's journeys continue, and the path to stability may be a winding one, but this persistent, dedicated pair has the Project Hope Alliance community walking alongside them every step of the way.