The following stories of our families’ successes are intended to raise awareness about the issue of family homelessness and to show what Housing Families is doing to create positive change in the lives of families in need.
“Homeless parents tell their stories not because it is easy to do and not because they seek sympathy, but because their voices are a necessary informer to an intelligently transformed system that is both morally and economically sound.
Revealing such personal information is never an easy task to take on. However, we know that these stories must be told in order to reach beyond the perceptions of a ‘typical homeless person’ […]”
--Diane Sullivan, Homes for Families Policy Director and former Housing Families client
Several years ago, Najya and her now 8-year-old daughter Sadai became homeless. The loss of her job and high market rent threatened to derail Najya’s goal of self-sufficiency. The two entered into Housing Families’ transitional shelter program. Najya reflects on her experience, saying, “Homelessness was one of the most difficult situations I have ever dealt with. Even more traumatic was the hopelessness I felt. I was devastated, withdrawn and embarrassed to let anyone know about my situation.”
With the help of HFI staff, Najya and Sadai were able to move from transitional housing into a new apartment in Housing Families’ affordable rental development. In 2004, Najya was awarded a scholarship through One Family, Scholars, a program that helps women with children to pursue a higher education, as well as another scholarship for residents of affordable housing through the MA Housing Investment Corporation. She cross-registered for classes at Bunker Hill Community College and Roxbury Community College. In 2008, she was accepted into her dream school, Emerson College, and is now working to pursue a career in Multimedia Broadcast Journalism. She will graduate in May 2011.
Najya says of her work with HFI, “The help we received and continue to receive from Housing Families has helped to accelerate the constructive changes in my life, and I know I am taking positive steps toward my aspirations.” She adds, “I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for others helping me throughout my journey.” In sharing her story, Najya continues to advocate for homeless and low-income families. She has also worked with Emerson College to help other students access additional funding to achieve their higher education goals.
Najya and her daughter, Sadai
“Anna” and her partner become homeless one month after their son “Brian” was born. Her job did not offer maternity benefits and her partner become solely responsible for paying the bills. Then, their apartment was deemed incompliant with health regulations, and they were forced to leave. The family entered into Housing Families’ transitional shelter program. Anna found HFI staff welcoming and helpful, “We could tell they really cared and tried to help us to the best of their ability to access housing that we could afford.”
Anna and her family transitioned into HFI permanent housing, where they have been stably housed for 2 years. Throughout her time living in shelter and thereafter, Anna concentrated her efforts on completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. She says, “Through all of the struggles of being homeless, I managed to stay focused in school. My goal is to be a police officer to help people get their lives back on the right path.”