Charles Barrett and his ten-year-old son were given a fresh start when they were introduced to Community of Hope, where they received support from two of our programs. After losing his job and falling behind on his rent, Charles was evicted and became homeless. With the advice from his sister, he reached out to the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center and was placed at one of Community of Hope’s temporary housing sites. Charles noted, “It was embarrassing when we got to the shelter, but then it was a relief that we had somewhere to stay.” Even though Charles now had somewhere temporary to stay, he knew that he needed to be intentional with finding a permanent and sustainable solution for his son and himself. “Once I got in the shelter, Community of Hope helped me look for a permanent place to stay. "I was impressed with how they were willing to help me. It showed they were really concerned about us.”
Strengthened with self-determination and help from COH, Charles not only received his Security Officer (SO) license so he could secure a full-time job, first a valet role. He also found an apartment. After two and a half months, Charles and his son were able to move out of the temporary home and into an affordable apartment of their own through Community of Hope’s Rapid Re-Housing Program. Our Rapid Re-Housing Program provides short-term rental and utility assistance, along with case management to families experiencing homelessness. With a few months of assistance, families can become stably housed for years to come.
Just as Charles began making progress in the program and nearly a month after moving into his new apartment, everything came to a complete stop when COVID-19 shut down the Washington metropolitan area. In March 2020, Charles lost his job as a valet driver and was forced to quarantine at home. “Being stuck in the house was a downer. I didn’t want to sit in the house and collect money. I wanted to work. I needed to work,” Charles recalled. Along with the shock from losing his job, Charles had to quickly adapt to assist his son with virtual learning since schools were no longer meeting in person. “It was challenging at first, but I helped him when he needed it. I would make him wake up and go to the table and start his work.”
Community of Hope’s Rapid Re-Housing program helps families experiencing homelessness exit shelter quickly with housing and supportive services. We also connect families with employment resources which supports their long-term self-sufficiency. So, when Charles lost his job due to the pandemic, our employment team jumped in to offer many employment resources and job opportunities. “They were helping me find a job. It was great to have their support and I felt confident I would get a job.” With the support of his employment specialist for two months, Charles diligently looked for a new job – and he secured one! “I got the job and I felt relieved. I felt God was still with me.” Charles has been working as a security officer for several months now and is hopeful that now with stable housing and employment he can work towards homeownership and getting a car, so he doesn’t have to rely on public transportation. “There are families out here that really need help and it’s good to have organizations like Community of Hope helping people. I’m glad that I got the help … when I needed it most.”
For more information about Community of Hope’s housing programs, please visit our website at https://www.communityofhopedc.org/housing/programs