FAIRFAX, VA (WUSA) --- Could you go from an eviction notice to obtaining permanent housing in less than one month?
Karen Hundley did just that in all of 26 days with the assistance of Shelter House, Inc.
Hundley faced eviction this past spring. Her job had been reduced to part time, so she brought home a smaller paycheck. She couldn't keep up with the rent. Suddenly, Hundley and her four children became homeless.
"You are absolutely embarrassed when this happens...sure you are. [You feel like] I can't take care of my family, what am I gonna do? But this program helped me to not focus on that, but to focus on what you can do to get out of it," Hundley explained.
The Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter gave her a second chance. The shelter is one of six programs of Shelter House. The family shelter is designed to give families a way to save money and find permanent and affordable housing.
For about a month, Hundley and her family were provided with the basics: housing and food.
"When you come in a place like this...you're thinking what are my friends going to think, what is the impact on my kids?" Hundley said before finding out what was offered.
The family shelter provides many resources including after-school tutoring and job and health workshops.
"When I got here the concerns left because the staff never made me feel less dignified than what I am," Hundley reflected.
While staying at the shelter, Hundley was able to focus on saving her money. She also got help polishing up her resume through the job workshops offered at the family shelter.
According to Brian Ricks, the Assistant Director, "Our program is designed to be 30 to 45 days. [It's a] strict program that we focus on employment, finance and identifying housing."
Shelter House staff held weekly financial meetings with Hundley. The goal for Shelter House clients is to save 70 percent of their income while staying at the shelter.
With the help of the program, Hundley was able to save enough to sign a lease for an affordable housing unit in Manassas, Va.
The success of Shelter House comes from the generosity of many groups: corporate and community partners, businesses, local volunteers and the government of Fairfax County.
"If I had to boil it down to one word, it would be 'partnerships,' said Ronald Redmon, President of the Board of Directors of Shelter House, Inc.
NOTE: The Gannett Foundation has given a donation to Shelter House, Inc.
Written by: Elizabeth Jia
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