When business slowed down at the Mexican restaurant where Angela was pulling double shifts, she and her three children became homeless and lived at a local shelter for 10 months.
It was her family’s first bout with homelessness, which began in May 2017.
“It was so difficult,” Angela said. “I mean just going through a break-up, working for almost nothing since it cost me $30 to get back and forth from work because I don’t drive. Just trying and trying and failing.”
Angela and her three children—elementary-aged twins and a teenage son—spent Christmas morning that year surrounded by strangers and squished next to one another, with presents scattered across the shelter.
“There’s nothing worse for a parent than not having anything under the tree for your kids. It makes you feel like a failure, but seeing your kids happy is so important,” Angela added.
That was then. This is now.
Angela, who had not heard of St. Vincent de Paul Louisville prior, has lived in West Family Apartments on our Shelby Park campus since March 2018.
“It has been wonderful compared to what we’ve been through,” she said. “To have our own place, not just a room. To actually be able to breath,” she said. “It’s nice not being scared. It has given me a chance to work on my mental health. To work on my physical health.”
For the last several winters, Angela and her family woke up on Christmas morning in their three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment without the worry of making rent or putting food on the table, and they had presents under the tree.
“Just having a safe, warm space with presents for my kids, a place to bake cookies, and to talk about Jesus and what it means for Him to come into the world,” she said.
We have seven on-campus housing programs with 225 beds available, including about 60 children. East and West Family Apartments have six two-bedroom and four three-bedroom apartments each with up to 48 total beds for homeless families. Angela’s apartment came fully furnished with a large balcony, primary bedroom, and walk-in closet.
These are permanent supportive housing units (PSH). PSH is permanent housing in which housing assistance, such as long-term leasing or rental assistance, and supportive services are provided to assist a houseless person with a disability in achieving housing stability.
Angela and her children don’t just have a stable place to stay, but also receive supportive services. She participates in counseling through our Mental Health and Substance Use Program, with the purpose of addressing the underlying causes of homelessness, such as addiction, mental illness, and trauma history, in a safe, supportive environment.
Her twins are also involved in the Family Success Center’s after-school program Monday through Thursday.
“Both my kids are well behind in reading, so I was trying to get them involved in reading,” Angela said. “Socially, it’s helped a lot. They enjoy going, just being able to play with other kids, and they do learning activities or fun crafts.”
Since Angela doesn’t drive, she can walk to the Food Pantry twice a month to receive fresh groceries. This helps cover the gap where her Supplemental Security Income (SSI) doesn’t.
“Kids are expensive and food is expensive, and trying to keep them in clothes and shoes and stuff they need for school,” Angela added. “It’s still a struggle … and the food definitely helps.”
Your financial donations allow families like Angela’s to create moments and memories as simple as baking cookies on Christmas morning. Thank you!