Living out of a suitcase is not the life LaTasha imagined for herself and two young children. Nevertheless, for thirteen months, that is what life was like. What makes it worse is that she could not see it coming. “My mother had outgrown her house and suggested that my sister and I raised our kids there together.” And it worked for awhile. A temp job gave her just enough income to cover her portion of the mortgage. However, when her sister decided she needed to move, LaTasha was quickly overcome with bills. “The mortgage was too much to cover alone. I didn’t just fall behind on the house payments, I was behind on everything.” In late 2013, the bank foreclosed on the family home, and LaTasha and her 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son had nowhere to go.
In beginning, they shuffled between family members, so the kids wouldn’t have to change schools. After three months of sharing bedrooms already occupied with others and sleeping on couches, she had enough. “It was too much on us and my relatives, so we started staying in extended stay hotels, a week at a time.” For ten months, she moved her children from hotel to hotel, based on the cheapest weekly rate she could find. Some were good, but there were others she’d rather forget. The constant moving was exhausting and she had nothing to show for her efforts. Then a conversation with her grandmother provided an opening.
“My grandmother lives in Alexian Court Senior Apartments. She really likes going to Guardian Angel’s self-sufficiency workshops, where she can learn about community resources and ways to make ends meet.” She also discovered that Guardian Angel offered rent and utility assistance for seniors and families. Her grandmother urged her to call.
“I really didn’t know if Guardian Angel could help. I didn’t have any credit history because the house I’d been paying on was in my mom’s name. No leasing company wanted to take a chance on me.” Then there were the utility bills. Without paying off her existing balances, no landlord would let her move in. Miraculously, LaTasha has been able to save up some money, but she was still short of her goal. Guardian Angel proposed a simple, but critical solution – the Agency would help her with first month’s rent if she would use some of her savings to cover the other housing expenses. She would even be eligible for utility assistance in the future if she ran into trouble catching up on other bills.
Now there was only the issue of convincing a landlord to rent to LaTasha. So, a Guardian Angel caseworker met with LaTasha and a leasing agent to be sure the arrangement would work. After hearing from the caseworker, the leasing agent agreed to rent an apartment to LaTasha. LaTasha left that meeting with a signed rental agreement. For the first time in over year, she moved into her own place in October 2014. The opening had become an opportunity.
With an apartment she can now afford, LaTasha has been catching up on other bills and focusing on building a career as a sales agent at a Forbes 500 company. Since October, LaTasha has used Guardian Angel’s Client-Choice Food Pantry and participated in its annual Christmas Program. Overall, things are really looking up.
“I can’t put a monetary value on the assistance Guardian Angel provided to me and my children. The help was life changing, it relieved a lot of stress and now – finally – we have a home of our own.” That’s when LaTasha’s eyes light up. “My kids are happy. They have been strong through everything – they even kept their grades up in school! It’s good to be able to give this to them.”