Every once in a while, a family finds us that is slipping through all of the cracks. Last year, at this time, it was Janelle and Rodger with their two sets of twins and a toddler. I’m so happy and proud to say that they have been in housing now for over 8 months, and if it wasn’t for this amazing safety net of concerned citizens, they would have slid right through the cracks.
Our family has found us this year. *Shana is a single mom, living in a hotel with a sweet 11 year old boy, *Issac, a funny little 4 year old, *Coy, and the most adorable little 1 1/2 year old baby girl, *Allison. I got a frantic call from one of our community members last Sunday that the hotel owners had put them out on the street with nowhere to go because they couldn’t come up with $30 more to pay for their night. It was FREEZING cold outside, and these 3 children and their mother were sitting, outside of the hotel, hiding in the elements.
Shana and I talked for a while. I got her case manager’s name and phone number, who she hasn’t heard from in a month, and gave her every “coordinated entry” location and number that I could. Unfortunately, they had already been turned away at the local rescue mission and “an army that saves people” due to lack of available beds, but she was on the list for CASA and Raleigh Housing Authority, just nothing had come through yet. We paid for her room for the night and decided to reconvene in the morning.
I’ve tried calling her social worker. Not only have I not succeeded in getting an answer, I get directed to a voicemail box that is perpetually full- I’ve never even been able to leave her or anyone in the office a message. I called all of the same numbers that I gave Shana, and got exactly the same thing she got, recording after recording of different phone numbers to call, followed by full voicemail boxes. I haven’t been able to leave a single message for a single agency that this family even exists. The only folks who have been regularly in contact with me is Haven House, and they typically only serve people under 24 as part of their mission, but because this is such a desperate situation, they’ve been very helpful. They too have found nothing but recordings, and full voicemails.
Now, please don’t comment a rant about social workers, what this is really about is how completely overwhelmed our social workers are right now. The shelters are all full to max. Every program has a waiting list. The rental housing issue here in Wake County is DIRE, and this is proof. If I, the Executive Director of an agency for people experiencing homelessness can’t get a single human being on the phone or a working voicemail box, we have a problem, and it’s a big one.
We learned that the best way to keep people in a hotel who are in between programs is to go ahead and pay for a whole week. It’s far cheaper than going day by day, and then to ask the Universe for forgiveness instead of permission. Until I can manage to find some case worker, some program manager, who will answer and talk to me, we’ve paid for 1 week of their hotel room. It’s $370 for 7 days, verses the $75 a day it would be paying a day at the time.
If you would like to help us keep these children out of the freezing temperatures, please click here to donate, and feel free to leave us a note about what your donation is for. If you would like to pay the hotel directly, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org , for the location and account, and know that payments to this hotel must be done in person, not over the phone (a policy I’ve tried to get them to change, at least for us, but they won’t). We don’t really have the funds to pay for a week in a hotel, but I can’t live with the idea of this woman huddled with her kids in the stairwell of the hotel either. We’re going to get her some help, we just need a little time to figure out what is going on with our system.
If you would like to help with something that she needs, right now she really needs size 3 diapers for her baby. As Mommas know, diapers are expensive, and not covered by food stamps or WIC. We have gotten her a voucher to Catholic Parrish Outreach which gives food and whatever diapers they have once a month. Diapers would be a solid good.
Her oldest son could use rides to and from school. The hotel isn’t on his bus route. If this is something that would interest you, please email me personally, because this is sensitive information.
Thank you all, and let’s try to create another success story this year!