This Sunday, Rousse will be celebrating Mother’s Day with her teenage children and her own mother. Joining them will be Rousse’s four nieces and nephews, who she is helping to parent while her sister struggles with personal issues. It’s not an easy road for Rousse, because she is addressing her own struggles–maintaining her family while coping with a housing crisis. 

Rousse strongly believes that “helping is what family is all about." She learned this philosophy at an early age from her mother, and lived it more recently when Rousse became homeless about two years ago. She didn’t want to keep putting her kids through the stress and uncertainty of not having a bed to sleep in, or a place to do their homework. When she kept moving between Housing Forward’s PADS Emergency Shelter, family and friends, her mother stepped in to provide that help, giving her children a stable place to stay.

Rousse was accepted into our Interim Housing Program last fall. Previously she had been staying in one of the motels where our clients had been relocated after our emergency shelter program shifted due to COVID-19 precautions. It was there that she found the stability and support she needed to take steps toward permanent housing. Working with her case manager Jennifer, she successfully applied for an Oak Park Housing Choice Voucher, which will help her continue living in the community.   

This Mother’s Day, Rousse may be daydreaming about the new apartment she’ll be moving into this summer where she will be reuniting with her two children. She says there will always be room in that home for her nieces and nephews, because she knows very well that helping them grow up in a loving and caring home is something family does for each other.