Surviving Hardships, a Tenants Story

Jamie is a 40-year-old single mother who has overcome many life-changing obstacles since living on the streets since the age of 14. Some of the hardships include parental neglect, abuse, and drug addiction. These were contributing factors in her quitting school in the 5th grade and running away when turmoil in the home escalated. Due to Jamie's inability to read or write she lacks work history so she did what she had to do to survive on the streets. This lifestyle has led to a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, repeat arrests, incarceration, homelessness, multiple pregnancies, and termination of parental rights. 

Jamie struggled with numerous barriers that prevented her from finding safe and affordable housing. These include years of drug addiction, poor credit, blemished background history & probation status, lack of rental history, and simply being low-income. It was incredibly difficult for Jamie to find a unit she could afford on her monthly Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) payment of $733. 

When Jamie was last incarcerated in 2013, she discovered she was pregnant with her 7th child after having another child just one year prior. When she was released, she moved in with one of her older siblings due to being unable to secure housing for herself and two baby boys. Unfortunately, after eight months in a toxic relationship, domestic violence forced Jamie to seek shelter at the Domestic Violence Center. With the help and support from shelter workers, Jamie was connected to many programs and resources during the extended period of six months while she resided there. Some of these included attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, VNS-Respite Care (a program that provided childcare), Children and Families of Iowa Outreach services, transportation, and DHS- waiver program.

Unfortunately, due to her low-income, criminal history, eviction history, lack of housing history, and credit score, Jamie was still unable to find housing for her family after leaving the shelter.

In February 2015, Home, Inc. contacted the Domestic Violence Center about the availability of a 3 bedroom home at HOME, Inc.’s Clark Commons rental property. This opportunity was a perfect fit for Jamie and her boys as it provided an affordable housing option and integrated support services to help her retain the housing unit. While Jamie was concerned that she wouldn’t qualify because she had been turned down by many housing opportunities due to her barriers, she went ahead and applied and was accepted.

Jamie has been living at Clark Commons and working with a case manager in HOME, Inc.’s Integrated Services for the last four years. Jamie's life skills have grown significantly. She has improved her credit dramatically and has obtained bank accounts and a line of credit, created a monthly budget, increased her income by pursuing SSDI for her special needs son, and above all, has increased her self-esteem and confidence. Jamie has continually paid her rent on time and is a really great tenant. 

One of Jamie's goals was to be able to read books to her two younger boys. She is now able to read and not only that, write as well. She is very proud of her accomplishments and ability to be self-sufficient and loves her new home! Jamie's future goals include continuing her sobriety, getting her GED, paying off legal fines and fees, obtaining her driver's license, and eventually seeking employment when the boys attend elementary school.
Jamie continues to survive hardships and everything that life has to throw at her, such as cancer and she is thankfully now in remission. Thanks to her housing stability, she was able to focus on staying strong for her children and herself. Her youngest son is enrolled in school for the fall which allows Jamie to focus on her biggest goal which is to also head back to school to pursue a GED. 

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