“I get my own room?!” That was the very first thing Janiyah’s 6-year-old son said when he walked into their new apartment. This moment was the start of a fresh chapter for a young mother.
Janiyah gave birth to her son John when she was a teenager. She lacked family support, which eventually led to them moving out of her mother’s home with nowhere to go. She and John were able to sleep at her grandmother’s house when her uncle wasn’t using the spare bed, but when he was, Janiyah and John were given a blanket and sent to sleep in an old car behind the house.
“John was confused and terrified,” says Janiyah. “He would ask where the TV was, or the refrigerator. He was scared to tell me when he needed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night because my uncle would get very angry when we needed to wake him up to let us into the house.”
When Janiyah reluctantly confided her situation to a friend in a parenting class, she was referred to Ebony, Housing Forward’s Family Support Specialist. Within a week, Janiyah entered the Interim Housing Program, where she and John had a warm bed to sleep in, a private bathroom and three meals a day. Several months later she joined our new Bridge For Youth (BFY) project, which provides services uniquely tailored for young people. The program uses a positive, youth development approach to provide a path towards independent living through a Transitional Housing/ Rapid Re-Housing model.
Janiyah’s BFY case manager Cheri, helped her find an apartment in the community. “There was no pressure to pick a particular apartment,” said Janiyah. “I was given the choice of an apartment for me and my son, which felt great.” Through the BFY program and its’ partner agencies, she is now working on several areas of her life. After leaving high school to work and raise John, getting a GED and finding full employment are her top priorities. Taking time to find a balance in life is next on the list.
When asked what the future holds now for her son, Janiyah replied without hesitation. “My goal is to break the cycle, so my son doesn’t go though what I went through.”
*Client names have been changed for this story.