Erica Ward Cherry, MSW
Home for the Holidays - A Family's Search for Housing for 10
Monica and her family entered Family Promise in September 2021. Monica, her significant other, and their 7 children became homeless after the home they were living in was sold by the landlord. Monica was seven month’s pregnant and was anxious to find a stable place to live before the arrival of her new child.
Settling to to Glendora House
The availability of affordable housing has significantly decreased since the pandemic and the reality of finding an affordable home for such a large family was going to be challenging. For a family that has never been homeless, the thought of going into shelter can be frightening and that was certainly the case for this family. Once the family completed orientation and toured the unit they would occupy, they felt a little relief that they would have a comfortable, private place to stay while they sought permanent housing.
Monica worried that the stressful situation could compromise her having a healthy pregnancy. Unfortunately, her fears came true and the baby was born prematurely in mid-October. Monica and her significant other were challenged with managing a large household – while homeless, job seeking and being parents of a newborn child that was in the NICU. The family proved their strength and unity as they divided and conquered during the difficult time. The baby was doing well and wasn’t expected to be in the NICU long which was a relief. Family Promise informed the host and support congregations of the pre-mature baby and unsurprisingly, our kind volunteers stepped up to collect items needed to bring a newborn home. The response was incredible and the family was overwhelmed with appreciation that so many people choose to help her family. The baby continued to thrive in the NICU and was released in mid-November.
The Search for Housing
Things were starting to look up for the family as they were approved for an emergency voucher from AMHA; however, the voucher would not eliminate the lack of affordable housing in Summit County – especially for a family of 10. For weeks, the family diligently sought housing without success. The housing climate coupled with the reality that many landlords do not accept vouchers provided a lot of discouragement for the family. Their original goal of permanent housing before Thanksgiving extended to housing before Christmas. Finally, on December 13th the family was approved for housing and awaiting inspection. Monica was relieved and still very hopeful that her family would be home for Christmas. Unfortunately, the house did not pass the first inspection and a second inspection would be scheduled was the repairs we done. Monica realized that a home before Christmas was unlikely and was very disappointed but eventually accepted the unfortunate reality and vowed to make the best of the holiday for her family.
With extraordinary support from the network, Family Promise was able to host a memorable holiday celebration for the families. Monica and her family admitted that Christmas in the shelter wasn’t what they expected and they were grateful that the children didn’t feel forgotten because they didn’t have home. The week after Christmas, the housing inspection finally passed and the family received their keys. After 122 days, the family was finally home!