Denee always taught her children that family is more than blood. But it’s a lesson she truly only learned herself when they moved into UMOM’s Parsons Village last year.
The 30-year-old says everyone who lives there is so close it evokes those “cup of sugar” days. She knows a neighbor or staff member always has an eye on her children. There’s a whole community of people to ask a favor of. That connection is due in part to their shared experience with homelessness and struggle, she says.
“We’re stronger because we all know where we came from,” Denee said.
More than anything else, affordable housing provides both the support and the privacy needed to build her family their own way. It’s the first time she and her three children (ages 12, 6 and 5 respectively) have a place to call home. In the case of her 31-year-old boyfriend, it’s the first time he’s ever been able to put an address on his driver’s license. Sometimes it feels too good to be true.
As her kids attend chess classes, play bingo with volunteers, and explore the city and new opportunities on field trips, she doesn’t want them to forget where they came from. She sends her 12-year-old son to volunteer at St Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, packing food boxes for families in situations not unlike where they once were. Their family passed out blankets to people experience homelessness last Christmas.
And her family continues to grow: on August 31 she and her boyfriend will be expecting their first child together. Welcoming a new child was never something Denee thought would be possible until they moved into their new, safe affordable home. Starting over has meant creating a new life in more ways than one.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is organizing a National Week of Housing Action from July 22-29 to call attention to those struggling to make enough money to have a place to call home. Read more about UMOM’s housing efforts here, and make a gift to support a family’s dream of permanent housing here.