“You have to leave!”
Those words meant the end of “home” for Nikki. She and her two young children had been living at her mother’s home in Washington, DC until one day in early 2016. Nikki had just a week to figure out where she was going to live.
Growing up, Nikki was in and out of shelters – all too familiar with the negative effects it could have on her children.
Would her kids experience what she and so many other children trapped in homelessness face?
According to Facts on Trauma and Homeless Children, homelessness creates an uphill battle for children’s academic success – they are twice as likely to repeat a grade compared to children not experiencing homelessness, have twice the rate of learning disabilities and more than three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems of children in stable housing.
Although she didn’t want that for her kids, she had few other options.
Nikki successfully talked her mom into a longer stay, but still she worried: “all I could think was that my mom could put me and my kids out at any time and I wouldn’t have anywhere to go.”
Nikki sought refuge and escape, where instead of shelter, she discovered Community of Hope’s Homelessness Prevention Program. She was optimistic to be that much closer to finding housing stability and peace of mind.
Community of Hope’s Homelessness Prevention Program keeps families from becoming homeless by providing intervention to keep them housed. Screening tools identify what level of services families need, including comprehensive case management, mediation services, financial assistance, budgeting and financial management, rental and utility assistance, and referral for legal services.
With her case manager Adam’s help, Nikki identified her goals. She has a steady income as a legal assistant, but her credit made finding an affordable apartment difficult.
Adding to a difficult situation, as Nikki searched for her new home, her mother’s apartment building caught fire and she was forced to live in a hotel temporarily.
“Now, not only did we have no place to live, but we had no clothes, shoes, and underwear,” Nikki recalled.
Despite this, she stayed positive and worked with Adam to ramp up the housing search – they needed to find a place before her hotel stay was over. Luckily, good news came – an apartment was ready to move in!
“Community of Hope’s patience with me was incredible. Adam pushed and pushed for me to get my security deposit and first month’s rent. I have never cried so hard as when I got my keys!”
Because of our Homelessness Prevention services like housing search and financial assistance, Nikki and her children were able to move into a comfortable apartment, closer to her job. Nikki also got connected to places to get furniture for her new home and nearby childcare options.
One year ago, Nikki and her children would’ve entered the overcrowded shelter system.
Instead, thanks to our Homelessness Prevention Program, the family moved into their own apartment.
“I feel safe and my kids feel safe. All that matters to me is their happiness.”