A HELPING HAND: Ms. Smith’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.
Ms. Smith reported that she and her two daughters, Kyndra and Kyndall, were homeless and needed shelter. At the time, she worked two jobs and only made enough to pay for her hotel room. Even then, Ms. Smith could not afford each day and was unknowing where she and her children would sleep.
Ms. Smith faced an ordeal choosing between taking her small children to work with her to complete schoolwork and letting them sleep while she worked to ensure that they were rested for school. Luckily, she made sure her children remained presentable, rested, and fed from whatever she could afford to feed them.
“You don’t have to look like what you’ve been through,” Ms. Smith always says.
On January 25, 2021, Ms. Smith requested help from the Coastal Georgia Community Action Authority. Through the transition from homelessness to Rapid Housing enrollment with the DCA ESG-CV program to placement, she remained receptive, resilient, and courageous. She was temporarily placed in a hotel through one of the partnering organizations for three weeks before finding her first home. Unknown to her, this would lead to a road of denials and rejected rental applications. Despite the previous rejection, Ms. Smith continued to preserve.
After nearly two months of searching for housing, a home was identified for her family on March 12, 2021. For the first time, Ms. Smith and her daughters have their own bedrooms. Now that the family is placed into a permanent, affordable, and stable home, Ms. Smith can work one full-time job and be at home with her children after school. This means no more sleeping in the car, no more sleeping at hotels, or sleeping on restaurant benches.