On Mother’s Day 2016, Rita discovered she was pregnant with her third child. “I wasn’t supposed to have kids, so they are my life,” she explained.
Rita was elated. But in October 2016, Rita’s husband lost his job. It became difficult to keep up with payments and they eventually lost their house.
Pregnant and with two children, Rita’s family had nowhere to go. Out of desperation, they tried staying with relatives and friends. Those environments were not always the best for kids, but it’s what they had. The stress of homelessness put Rita into labor a month and a half early. Her pregnancy was difficult. Her son had stopped moving in her womb.
There was nowhere to go
After the safe birth of her son, Rita, her husband, and their three children spent a difficult night in the local shelter. For safety reasons men and women are separated, leaving Rita to care for their children overnight on her own. Rita faced the next day with two small children and a newborn while her husband looked for work. There was nowhere to go, no place to give her kids structure or stability.
The Department of Family Services became involved and, eventually,the family moved into a Phase II apartment at the Council of Community Services. The Phase II apartment complex is used for families working towards stability with DFS. Rita’s family was given a two-bedroom apartment that came with strict rules and expectations that they continue to meet with success.
Continue to meet with success
During her experience with homelessness, Rita used the Food Pantry to make ends meet, received vouchers for school supplies through Seconds on the Avenue, and used the shelter laundry facility so she didn’t have to take her kids to the laundromat. The family has also taken a budgeting class offered through the Council. As a result of that class, Rita and her husband saved money to buy a new-to-them van.
For Rita, homelessness has been a very humbling and difficult experience. She has never experienced homelessness before. The hardest part was “keeping it together in front of my kids while dealing with loss of a home, food scarcity, pregnancy and parenting. I quit asking for help in the real world because it didn’t work.Everybody judged us.”
Nobody judges us here
The Council of Community Services has been a godsend.“Nobody judges us here,” says Rita. “People are so kind. Our case manager has helped us get diapers, dog food, toilet paper, and presents for my 9-year old’s birthday,” reports Rita.
By the end of 2018, Rita and her husband will complete their involvement with DFS. Her husband continues to look for stable, well-paying work, and they are welcome to stay in our Phase II apartments until they are financially stable.
Her best advice for anyone facing adverse experiences?
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”