How does transitional housing make a difference? Here’s a story about how it made all the difference to one person. This is just one of the many stories we have at Arlington Catholic Charities.
Nikki (name changed for anonymity) was already struggling to make ends meet when she was victimized by identity theft. Dealing with the subsequent financial obstacles, Nikki was no longer able to pay her rent and was evicted. She and her two young daughters were homeless for the first time. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. She says the most difficult day in her life was when she swallowed her pride and entered an emergency shelter.
While staying at the shelter, Nikki quickly landed a full-time job at a daycare center. When she applied to the Catholic Charities family transitional housing program, St. Margaret of Cortona, the staff was impressed by her dedication to achieving the goals she set. Stability is her number one priority for her family, and she dreams of home ownership one day.
Every week Nikki faithfully meets with her case manager and tackles the barriers that are preventing her from achieving her goals. She outlines a weekly and monthly budget – where she focuses on savings and paying down debt – and works with her case manager to increase her credit score. Nikki also attends weekly Life Skills classes while her daughters attend a children’s program. Both programs are designed to equip residents with the skills they need to lead healthy, productive lives both professionally and personally.
Nikki continues to work toward her goals despite facing adversity. She was laid off from her job at the daycare center, but she persevered and accepted a different full-time job. It is a temporary to permanent position that Nikki hopes to use to build her resume as well as her confidence. Moreover, she is also a full-time student and is working towards her bachelor’s degree, taking classes at night and on weekends.
Nikki says she feels extremely blessed to have the opportunity to have a job despite the barriers against her. Additionally, Nikki says she is extremely thankful for the time and support that Catholic Charities has provided for her, resurrecting her hopes for a better future for herself and her family.
What are some of the barriers our clients face?
Our clients are unable to secure stable housing because of many obstacles from their pasts. Program director Veronica Roth has listed the most common reasons that her clients need the support of the St. Margaret program:
- Income: unable to make enough money to afford high rental rates or high child care costs
- Employment History: long gaps in employment, often several years of unemployment
- Criminal Charges: felonies and other charges make it difficult to find work
- Educational History: unable to find work due to level of education or undiagnosed learning disorders
- Mental Health: untreated or undiagnosed mental health concerns
- Domestic Violence:fleeing from an abusive relationship
- Rental History: previous evictions; poor credit history
Our clients and Catholic Charities are supported by the gifts of our supporters. Capital One, through a charitable grant of $7,500, is helping Catholic Charities and clients like Nikki to gain a new lease on life. We want to thank Capital One for this grant award and support. Together, we are working to make a difference in the lives of homeless families.
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Homeless families, like Nikki’s, stay at our St. Margaret of Cortona Family Transformational Residence, where the individualized guidance and weekly programming encourages vulnerable families to achieve self-sufficiency. Many are single moms fleeing domestic abuse with little savings or family to depend on. Poor credit history, broken relationships, evictions and low-paying jobs may also weigh heavily on them.
Desperate for a second chance, they can stay in a St. Margaret’s apartment for up to two years. During that time, the moms focus on increasing their pay and education, overcoming mental health concern, improving parenting skills, helping their kids in school, rebuilding family relationships and seeking spiritual renewal.