From 'Surviving' To 'Thriving'

Number of Children… 3

Ended Homelessness… March 5, 2015

In January, Val, Mark and their three children had been homeless for three months. The tiny motel room in which all five resided made routine tasks tough on them, as their basic needs were not being met. The parents had a difficult time making warm food for their kids. The kids had issues with studying and homework, getting uninterrupted sleep and staving off recurring colds and flus.

(These struggles typify many of the more than 32,000 homeless children living in Orange County today. Absentia from school, falling behind in homework/grade level and chronic infections are some of the most common challenges we see in homeless kids.)

They were terrified.

In January, the family discussed their horrendous challenges with Chrissie, a dedicated Case Manager at Project Hope Alliance. Val's tone was incredulous, "Less than one year ago, my family was in our apartment, the kids were doing well in school and they had no health issues. My husband was planning on working on his residency so he could obtain more stable employment. All was well." Then the unforeseen happened.

Val had a mentally ill brother who needed a place to live. Val kindly offered her couch in her apartment to him for the short term. It became obvious fairly quickly that professional assistance was required for her troubled brother. When Social Services intervened and found him alternative housing, the landlord became enraged: he didn't want Social Services around, so he terminated their lease due to a technicality in their agreement. They were terrified.

With no lump sum of money saved for a deposit, Val and Mark's options were limited. They found the only route to stay off the street was to rent a motel room. It worked for a while, but after six months of living in the motel, the children were suffering from frightening and recurring colds and flu. They were not eating or sleeping well and their grades were suffering.

Chrissie and Val worked together on a plan: find a home where the family of five could recover from the traumas of the past year, and get on with the business of being a studious and healthy family. The family was so kind to others, so hard working and so deeply appreciative, that Chrissie knew a landlord would work with them once they all met and had their Rapid Rehousing dialogue.

The meeting with their new potential landlord got off to a great start: Val mentioned she was going to study at a SparkPoint (a financial literacy program provided by the Orange County United Way) center to identify how to build a financially secure future. The family's hopefulness and tenacity shined throughout the meeting, and they were approved for a new apartment with a move-in date in the near future!

After settling into their new homestead in March, Chrissie asked Val and Mark for an update. The entire family has reenergized and shared the following news:

1) Val was making headway at SparkPoint and loved learning how to plan for long-term financial success.

2) Mark was working on his residency so he could secure stable and well-paying work. In the meantime, the landlord hired him to do part-time maintenance work in their building.

3) One of their sons, was studying with a tutoring service to help him catch up to his appropriate grade level. He was also thriving in therapy (thanks to Chrissie's referral) to process the trauma of the past year.

The best news of all was saved for last, Val and Mark stated that their three kids were gaining back their strength and health, they were sleeping well, and they were enjoying warm dinners at home as a talkative and beautiful family.