Maria was one of nine children growing up. Her childhood was far from familiar, though. She was born in the Congo, and grew up at a refugee camp in Namibia, near South Africa. When she was 15, she became married to the man whose child she was carrying. They were interviewed by sponsors to come to America, and out of the 200 families hoping to make the move, Maria was one of the lucky ten.
When she and her husband arrived, Arizona reminded them of Africa; home. They started to settle in, learning English, starting school, getting their first jobs. But things quickly began to unravel. Maria’s husband became violent, and she feared not only for her life but for her three young children. The neighbors were the ones who called local law enforcement, and Maria’s husband was arrested on domestic violence charges. Without the extra income, the family could no longer afford to pay rent. Maria and her children went from shelter to shelter until she met her amazing case manager at UMOM New Day Centers. Now, Maria has a safe place to call home.
Through UMOM, Maria was assigned a case manager, an advocate, to assist her in the search for affordable housing. Together, they researched living options – apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and houses for rent and then the case manager negotiated the lease agreement. RRH covered the payment of Maria’s move-in deposit and will provide rental assistance if needed.
Many times, families who previously experienced homelessness or were staying in a shelter don’t have their own small appliances, furniture, kitchen items, or cleaning supplies and makes living on their own challenging. UMOM is able to provide a few items to families moving out of the shelter, but donations are greatly needed. Items such as full-size mattresses, bed frames, and linens or even an air mattress, can make a difference between the uncomfortable familiarity of sleeping on the cold, hard floor and the relief of having comfort in a new home. Gently used pots, pans, and kitchen utensils allow individuals to cook their own meals instead of having to buy fast food. A small table and set of chairs provide a place to sit and eat after a long day of work. Without these things, individuals can feel even more lonely and unprepared than when they were experiencing homelessness. Many return to the comfort of living on the streets, ultimately ending up in shelters time after time. By providing these simple household items and tools, we are all working to end their cycle of homelessness.
Maria and her case manager continue to meet twice a month to work on a variety of skills, such as goal planning, continued/ furthering education, budgeting, job readiness, and life skills. After successfully transitioning from shelter stay to their new home, clients typically continue to have access to support services through UMOM for up to 12 months after their move-out date to aid in navigating any difficulties that arise.
Where Maria is now…
Maria and her family have moved into a two-bed, two-bath apartment that they love. They’re able to cook meals in their kitchen and eat together which is a priority to her family. Her children are preparing to start school this fall, and are equipped with the necessary tools to start off on the right foot. Maria meets with her case manager to share updates and discuss any issues the family may be facing. Though Maria is already working, she continues to visit the New Day Employment Center, applying for more positions to supplement her income.