From 'Motel Kids' To Happy Kids

Number of children... 2

Ended homelessness... September 2014

It happened when the "for sale" sign in front of Sean's sister's house was slapped with a big red "sold" sticker. The husband and father of two had moved his family into his sister's living room, and suddenly, the family found themselves without a home.

A motel along Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa became home for the family of four.

For nearly a year, Sean and Samantha stretched themselves thin to make ends meet, with long hours creeping into overtime on Sean's watch, while Samantha juggled multiple jobs and unstable hours. Two hard-working parents and two hard-working children, all striving to make it work.

Fear of being labeled as ‘motel kids.’

The couple's two young girls, ages 11 and 14, refused to allow the family's challenging living situation to affect their education. They continued to thrive in school, despite embarrassment of their "home" and fear of being labeled as "motel kids." Sean and Samantha took turns transporting the girls to school in neighboring Santa Ana, ensuring that they were never late to avoid questioning. While some friends knew of the family's predicament, the girls asked them to keep their household details a secret. Inviting friends over became a thing of the past, given the lack of privacy and outdoor space. 

Aside from shame, the girls' other major concern presented itself when the afternoon bell rang: Did they have a safe place to go after school while their parents worked?

But the family never lost hope. Though trying, the determined group of optimists stayed positive during their struggle. Sean and Samantha emphasized trust and confidence in their relationship to a level they never imagined. 

In Fall 2013, Project Hope Alliance Case Manager Ana Aguilar met and strategized with the family, who eagerly joined our Family Stability Program. Through the rapid rehousing process and a combination of perseverance, dedication, and encouragement, the family moved into their own apartment and received a few months of subsidized assistance. We rallied for the family during their transition, and also helped furnish their new space. To improve the family's financial future, Ana linked Sean and Samantha to SparkPoint, an effective literacy and budgeting program.

A major milestone in our partnership occurred when the family, who proved open-minded from day one, trusted Ana's guidance on family efficiency. "Being able to provide support and encouragement for our families is priceless, and the most rewarding part of my job is making families smile," says Ana.

Work situations for both parents have also improved. Hired directly with his company in Summer 2014, Sean's pay and responsibilities have increased, and Samantha also happily works full-time with stable hours. The family's newfound stability allows them to focus on other areas of improvement, including budgeting their monthly family income.

Extremely grateful, the family continues to work toward self-sufficiency. The girls have maintained their grades, carved out time for new hobbies, and could not be more thankful for their shared room, a mighty step up from a shared room between the entire family. Each family member penned a thank you card to Ana after their move, a gesture that brought tears to her eyes.

The quartet has remained committed to both our Family Stability Program and Education Program, and has participated in various Project Hope Alliance events. We continue to support them via our food and supplies pantry, and unwavering motivation and counsel.