Joanne remembers the day she first saw her new apartment just like it was yesterday! Her case manager Aaron showed her a place in Broadview with lots of sunlight and shiny hardwood floors overlooking a park, and she immediately fell in love with it. She clearly recalls her amazement when he told her the apartment was hers if she wanted it. “I felt like I had been waiting forever, and it happened in a split-second.” The most exciting part of the new apartment was that she was one step closer to reuniting with her kids.
Joanne struggled with homelessness for 2 ½ years. During that time she stayed in shelters, motel rooms, and even slept in storage units while trying to keep her full-time job. Because she wanted her daughters, now ages 13 and 5, to have a safe and stable place to live, she asked family members to open their doors to the girls.
While staying on her own at the PADS Emergency Shelter, Joanne was connected to the Housing Forward case management team. Once she committed to resolving her homelessness, the process of getting her off the street and back into housing began. When the pandemic hit, Joanne moved to individual accommodations, but her goal was always a place with room for her girls.
Once her apartment was secured, Aaron coordinated a virtual visit to the Chicago Furniture Bank, where Joanne was able to choose her own furnishings. The day she moved in, Housing Forward volunteers delivered a Hotel to Home Kit, with household essentials to turn an empty apartment into a comfortable home. The kits, donated by individuals, community groups and congregations, include everything from pots and pans, to towels, a fan and a television. Joanne was especially touched to see that special items had been included to decorate her daughters’ room.
Joanne and Aaron continue to work together—increasing her stability and sense of self-worth. On Sunday, Joanne will celebrate Mother’s Day with her daughters and extended family. While she admits the past few years have been exhausting, having a home is wonderful. Today, she not only feels settled, but excited about the possibilities ahead. That is truly something to celebrate on Mother’s Day and every day.
*Client name has been changed for this story.