IHI Residents Share Their Stories
Justin
Justin, the sole wage-earner of a household of 5, lost his job and, as a temporary employee, did not qualify for unemployment. Justin had always been able to provide for his family and even though he knew about Resident Services, he had never asked for help and was determined not to this time. When he was unable to find work as quickly as he had in the past, he began to panic. The family sold furniture, personal belongings and Justin's work tools to pay rent, but the proceeds weren't enough to cover food or basic necessities and there was no way to pay next month's rent. Justin had recently received a flyer about potential employment opportunities from Resident Services and called the number at the bottom.

When IHI's Resident Services Coordinator met with Justin and his wife, Alayna, she quickly realized that the situation was much more dire than Justin had indicated over the phone. Even if Justin got a job right away, the family would run out of food before his first paycheck. She helped the family understand the importance of taking the uncomfortable steps ahead. She made resource referrals to meet a number of their needs, giving them detailed information about TANF, SNAP (formerly food stamps), health insurance for their children, emergency food-boxes, rental and energy assistance and free school breakfast/lunches and emphasized how important it is that these services are available to hard-working families during an economic recession. She gave them agency addresses and hours of operations and the application and application process for each benefit, and asked Justin and Alayna to call her if they had any trouble accessing any benefits. When energy assistance was unavailable, she arranged to pay the bill through IHI's Emergency Fund. She also researched a Project-based Section 8 option available at the site where the family lives. It turns out that space was available and the family qualified so they now benefit from rent subsidy that ties the amount they pay for rent to their income.

Justin is still looking for work and, while not happy to be dependent on public benefits - even temporarily - he says he is relieved that he doesn't have to worry about where his family will sleep or what they will eat. Without Resident Services, Justin, his wife and three young children may have been homeless before they began accessing the social services necessary to keep the family safe and stable.

"When my husband lost his job, we were in a panic and I don't know if we would have been able to get the help we needed without Resident Services helping us each step of the way." -Alayna, Justin's wife and mother of 3