In May of 2020, 34-year-old Ashley Smith, a single mom of three, submitted an online application with the Hardee Help Center requesting lodging assistance. Ashley and her children had recently become homeless after a breakup with her partner resulted in them moving out of their home and into a motel while Ashley searched for permanent housing.
Ashley’s full-time employment ended due to COVID-19. While waiting to begin a new job, Ashley exhausted all of her funds but she needed help keeping her family housed safely.
The Executive Director of the Hardee Help Center was able to meet with Ashley at the motel the day after her application submission, providing her with $350 of United Way funds for a one-week stay at the local motel.
After her stay at the motel, Ashley and her children found lodging with a friend outside of Hardee County. She continued to look for permanent housing and worked at getting back on her feet. Unfortunately, after living with her friend for two months, Ashley experienced domestic violence and could no longer stay there.
Finding herself homeless again, she returned to Hardee County where her children could stay temporarily with their grandparents. At this time, Ashley moved from place to place, sleeping wherever she could find shelter.
In October, Ashley returned to the Hardee Help Center and submitted an Emergency Assessment.
She was seeking permanent housing for herself and her children, needing assistance with move-in costs. Ashley was contacted by a case manager and evaluated on how her basic needs could be met during this unexpected hardship. Through case management, it was determined that she would benefit from resource counseling to identify local apartments, landlord information, and partner agencies’ services.
Through United Way, the Hardee Help Center receives added support for the Basic Needs Program. This program offers individuals the opportunity to work alongside Hardee Help Center’s case managers to help those in need regain financial stability through unexpected hardship.
Ashley’s priority was to find permanent housing for herself and her children. Her case manager helped Ashley apply for assistance with the Heartland Coalition for the Homeless, another United Way community partner.
Shortly thereafter, Ashley held the keys to her new apartment.
United Way funds and partnerships assisted Ashley with move-in costs to her new apartment, groceries, hygiene and household items, and vouchers to local partnering thrift stores. This assistance allowed Ashley and her family the necessities required to settle into their new home with a certain degree of comfort.
Ashley’s journey to permanent housing began with lodging assistance received from United Way funds, continued with assistance and resource counseling from the Hardee Help Center, and ended with move-in costs provided by Heartland Coalition for the Homeless.
Ashley’s story exemplifies achievable, positive change through United Way’s partnerships with local agencies.