Antonia: Young mom facing homelessness finds a job, a home and new hope

Courtesy of Janus Youth Programs; HomeSafe is managed by Insights Teen Parent Services, a part of Janus Youth

Antonia entered HomeSafe as a homeless mother of an infant. She lost her housing after her own mother, a resident of public housing, was issued a notice that their unit would be over capacity when the new baby joined the household. Antonia was housed in HomeSafe very quickly, as she did not have substantial rental barriers -- just youth and a lack of rental credit history.

In her first meetings with her Home Visitor, Antonia was adjusting to living alone for the first time, and living with a brand new baby. She spent a lot of time with her mother, who would have preferred having her daughter and grandbaby stay with her, but it was not an option.

Antonia shared with her Home Visitor that she had big aspirations for herself and her baby. She was a high school graduate and anticipated going to college. But the unplanned pregnancy delayed that plan.

Antonia had been working in fast food, but took a maternity leave just before giving birth. She began receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits of $432 a month, as well as food stamps and support from Multnomah County's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. Antonia was still on leave adjusting to her new stability when her mother died suddenly and unexpectedly of cardiac arrest. Antonia continued to engage with her Home Visitor after her devastating loss. But she was in shock, followed by a deep depression.

On one home visit, she shared with her Home Visitor that she had begun applying for office jobs but was not getting anywhere. Her Home Visitor returned to their next visit with sample cover letters and resumes for Antonia to review, and Antonia laughed hysterically when she read the sample cover letters. She told her Home Visitor that the letters she’d been writing and sending were nothing like the suggested letters and vowed to start again. And she did.

Antonia applied for an entry-level government position and sought the advice of her Home Visitor when she was called for an interview. Her Home Visitor encouraged her to be herself and to relax, and assured her they would love her. And they did.

Antonia has been employed for more than a year. She receives Employment Related Day Care from Oregon and will be exiting HomeSafe in September 2018. She loves her job (where she earns a higher salary than her Home Visitor) and hopes to “keep it forever,” she has said.

As is required for entry into HomeSafe, Antonia applied to multiple permanent low-income and affordable housing properties. When her name was drawn on the Marion County Section 8 list, Antonia struggled with whether to leave her community, and the job she loves, for the stability of permanent low-income housing. In the end, she decided to stay, not willing to let go of a job where she excels and the new life she has created for her son in just 18 months.

Several months later, her name came up on the waiting list for an affordable home in the new Vine Maple Apartments in Southeast Portland, where her rent is just under $1,000 per month, and she moved in.

We are all nervous about how she will be able to pay her full rent when her time in HomeSafe ends, but we are very confident that Antonia can make it happen. As with all families, she will be eligible for emergency rental assistance in the event she stumbles and will continue to receive case management and follow-up services for up to one year.