Updated: Aug 11, 2020
I never thought it would happen to me.
Being homeless was something that happened to other people. I’m embarrassed to say this (because now I know it could not be further from the truth), but I honestly used to think that being homeless only happened to bad people or people who somehow “deserved” it. Not to someone like me - a hard-working single mom who is a good person, trying my best to live an honest life and do right by my kids... But we just fell on hard times and couldn’t recover.
This is my story.
I had a decent job and was able to make ends meet for me and my two kids, Oscar and Sophia. Money was always tight and I didn’t have any savings. Savings are hard to have when you’re working paycheck to paycheck, but we were getting by. We could occasionally splurge for an ice cream cone or something like that. We didn’t have a lot of money, but life was good for us. There was a lot of laughter and joy in our house.
The first thing that went wrong was when we lost the car. Out of the blue, my car broke down. The cost of the repairs was so high, and I didn’t have the money to fix it. No one wanted to give me very much money for a car that needed repairs. So I did what I had to do - sell the car for scraps. That money helped me cover a few weeks of taking an Uber to work, but it quickly ran out… Turns out, the cost of paying for a ride every day really added up. With no savings, we got behind, and then, we didn’t have all the money to cover rent. Between rent and the late fees, we just couldn’t catch up. To be honest, I probably could have pulled us out of that hole if the hits hadn’t kept coming.
The next thing that happened was Sophia’s hospitalization. She was in the hospital for 8 days. Thank God she recovered and is healthy today. We are blessed. We just didn’t have the money to pay the medical bills. I was completely shocked that we had to pay anything because I thought we had pretty good insurance. It seemed like every time I went to the mailbox, there was another bill from the hospital.
At that point, as the bills were stacking up, it seemed like every time I turned around rent was due again. It was awful. I was always in a bad mood. When I thought it couldn’t get worse, I lost my job. It was not my fault. As I said, I am a good worker and was also very loyal to my job. It’s just that the company I worked for went out of business once the virus hit.
That is when things got bad. I looked so hard for more work but couldn’t seem to find anything. I barely had the money for food. Bills and creditors were everywhere I turned. Life felt hopeless. I was depressed, angry, and embarrassed. I felt like we were in a deep hole and just couldn’t get out. Some days, I couldn’t get off the couch which made me feel worse because I knew I should be looking for work instead of just sitting there. Some days - I couldn’t move. I didn’t know who to ask for help and even if I did have someone to ask, I never really learned how to ask for help. I was always the one who took care of everyone else. I was the one that people turned to for help. Now we were in so deep. I didn’t even want my kids to look at me because I felt like such a failure.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, we were evicted.
One day, Oscar (who is 6) said something to his teacher about sleeping in the car. At first, I was so mad. But he is just a kid. He didn’t know about my shame. He didn’t know it was a secret. It ended up being the biggest blessing for our family. The school counselor called me with a recommendation that forever changed my life: “Reach out to Family Promise.” Since then, things have really started to turn around.
Disclaimer: This story is based on the experiences of families experiencing homelessness both in our community and around the nation. The names used are fictitious but the circumstances faced are very real. We hope you will stay tuned for Part II next month to learn about a day in the life at Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels.