A HELPING HAND: Kenyatta’s Story

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) is a federally funded HUD program that offers a variety of housing solutions and support services for low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. Alongside HOPWA, the Emergency Solution Grants (ESG) Program provides services from street outreach to rapid re-housing to those experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. Continuing to leverage HOPWA with other local services to address housing insecurity and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Georgia, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is proud to share success stories of individuals who were given a helping hand.

The identity of each person profiled will be restricted out of respect for their privacy.

Living in a rural Georgia county, Kenyatta was laid off due to COVID-19 in March of 2020. When applying for unemployment and receiving her payments two months later, it was discovered that her child support garnishment caused her unemployment checks to be greatly reduced. With help of the Homeless Resource Network, Kenyatta completed the non-filers application for the stimulus payment and was able to receive the amount for herself while the father received the children’s portion. Despite being approved for COVID-19 pandemic unemployment, it would take until July for the payments to come in.

Though she had found a new job after losing her first, Kenyatta was laid off due to COVID-19 once again. Meanwhile, her four children were doing virtual schooling with very unstable internet access. With her small home, this would mean the children to be in the same room and using the same internet for school while talking over one another, which added another stressor to her life.

The children eventually began going to a family member’s home for virtual learning when Kenyatta found another job working the afternoon shift. During that time, she had become sick and required time off to recover. Because she could not return to work due to her health, Kenyatta had lost that job as well and continued to be unemployed a year later.

Throughout various periods of the year, Kenyatta received DCA’s HOPWA STRMU assistance which provided short-term rent, mortgage, and utility aid. Due to the STRMU waiver, she received support beyond the regular 21 weeks during any 52-week period.

Without the waiver of assistance, Kenyatta and her children would have lost their home. With the help of the STRMU waiver, she was able to use her unemployment to continue her car and insurance payments, which allowed her to find the many jobs she worked. Kenyatta is relieved that she still has a home, and the pandemic is winding down.

For more information regarding the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), click here. To learn more about the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program, click here.