Behind The Scenes: The Steps We Took To Help A Mom and Daughter Facing Homelessness

Last week we were able to help a Mother and her 14 year old daughter who were facing homelessness and were in desperate need of housing.

Today I want to pull back the curtain and show you the steps we took to make that happen.

Because I am always  concerned about people’s dignity, for this article, I’ll call her Sue. I was first made aware of Sue and her need when our church secretary called me on Tuesday. The secretary relayed the basic information to me that Sue and her daughter were basically homeless and needed help.

The church was already full with applications of people who were waiting for assistance and the secretary  was not sure when they would be able to help her. Many times churches are overwhelmed with needs like this. That’s why I created the Good Samaritan Plan. This plan helps churches to have a plan in place to meet these kind of needs.

What our assessment revealed

Since this was a lady, I called Karla who is one of our volunteers. Karla is great when it comes to helping ladies who are facing homelessness because she herself has been in that same situation before. A couple of hours later, Karla and sat I sat down with Sue at the church and did an initial assessment of her needs.

Special note: need help making an assessment? I wrote a three-part series about that and you can see them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

During our assessment time we learned several things about Sue. We learned that she has some very serious physical problems like emphysema and C.O.P.D.. She should be on oxygen but because of her housing situation she hasn’t had that in a while.

Her daughter also suffers with some difficulties that have rendered her disabled. We learned that Sue does have an income from disability but she spent the majority of her income this month to purchase a van so she could have transportation (and somewhere to sleep when she lost her home).

She could no longer afford the place where they had been living because the situation with her abusive husband had finally come to a head. Things were really bad and Sue and her daughter were left with all the bills. After a couple of months on their own, they were now facing eviction.

When I asked why she came to our church for help I found out that she had actually attended the morning worship service that Sunday. She had been invited by a church member who also happened to be a long time friend of hers. Plus, Sue’s adult son had been attending for a few weeks.

She had a lead on a new place to rent but it was only the 9th and her disability wouldn’t be there until the first of next month.

The situation with Sue and her daughter was bad. It was truly heartbreaking. but at least they had a car and some monthly income. With those two things, I knew what to do next.

What we did

Karla and I spoke together after the assessment to think through how to best help Sue. We wanted to help her in the best way that we could with the resources that we had. Sue had to run an errand so we asked her to meet us back at the church when she was done. This gave Karla and I some time to pause, pray and think.

Since it was already after 5 pm, we decided to rent a motel room for them that night. This would keep them from sleeping in their car and it would buy us another day to come up with a more permanent solution. We were thinking that we could help her with rent and a deposit on the new place if it was still available.

At this point we did not promise her help with rent on the new place. We had a little homework to do first. Before we spend much money on a person, we try to do some “due diligence” and verify their story.

During the assessment Sue provided us with some contacts. We had phone numbers for her attorney, (she had been in an awful wreck a few years ago), her DHR case worker, and the number of the church member who was her long time friend.

While Sue and her daughter went to the motel for a good night of rest, Karla and I made the calls. We were able to speak to her attorney who verified the story about the wreck. But the best information came from her friend who went to our church. They were able to verify about the husband and the illnesses. They believed that Sue was in need of help.

It is important to verify these things when possible because week after week people come to churches with made up stories about illnesses and problems that are simply not true.

Since she had some monthly income and a vehicle, we knew that if she found a place to live that had cheap rent, she had a good shot at making it. The next day we found out that the first place had already been rented so it was off the table.

At this point, there were a few things we could do. We could help her with gas for her car. We could pay for more nights in the motel. We could buy her food or help with medical issues.

Knowing that our funds to help her were limited, we decided to focus on helping her pay for a permanent place to live. We told her that we could give $350 towards rent and deposit if she found a place. We were willing to pay some more but for some reason that’s the number that I felt led to give her.

On Tuesday night we posted about her need on face book. That night, someone donated $100 and the next night someone else gave another $100.

The outcome

Before the day was over, Sue called to tell us that she had found a possible place to live. Someone she knew had an efficiency apartment built onto their house and they were looking to rent it for $200 per month with a $150 deposit.

Once again it was time to do our homework. We wanted to make sure that this was a legitimate deal so Karla called the landlord. Everything checked out to the best of our knowledge and that night Sue moved into the little apartment and I went the next day and payed the $350 for the rent and deposit.

So Sue and her daughter stayed in the motel on Tuesday and moved into their apartment on Wednesday. The rent should be low enough for them to be able to pay everything each month. I’m sure that they will still have many, many challenges over the next few weeks and months but at least they are safe and warm in a home.

We have already been in touch with them again and hopefully they will continue to attend church and grow in the Lord and build new and healthy relationships.

Please keep this family in your prayers.