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Adam's Story

Several months ago, Adam was staying in a shelter and only had one week before he would be back on the streets, homeless. He had been struggling with homelessness for the past few years, and it was imperative that he find a permanent housing solution and get back to a sense of normalcy. In addition to his lack of housing, Adam faced many other struggles. He had no source of income, making it difficult to access the things he needed on a day-to-day basis. Also, he was a recovering addict and was struggling with major depression, making it even more challenging to achieve his goals.  

Adam reached out to FOF and was enrolled in a housing program. With support, he was able to make landlord connections and start his housing search. Within just two weeks he signed a lease and was settled into his new home by the end of the month. Through his hard work and determination, he took control of his future and made his goal of having a home a reality.  

Adam worked closely with an FOF team member to create a plan for long-term housing stability, including eliminating and reducing barriers that could pose a threat in the future. With the same motivation, he actively sought out supporting resources to address his main concerns, his mental health and sobriety, so that he could continue moving in a positive direction.  

Adam now works for a social services agency, and soon after being hired, he received a raise for his hard work and dedication to the company and the individuals they serve. As he nears the completion of the program, he is confident that he can remain self-sufficient and continue to do wonderful things for himself and his community. 

 

Janine's story

Janine came to Friends of the Family seeking housing assistance through the walk-in referral system in North Central Iowa. Janine was fleeing her abuser, coming to Iowa from a different state. When Janine walked in the door, she was covered in bruises, had a walking boot on, and was wearing a sling from having been thrown down a flight of stairs in the last brutal assault she experienced. She was exhausted. 

Janine wasn’t new to the experience of homelessness. She is chronically homeless, having experienced homelessness more than four times throughout her adult life, for more than 12 months. She came from a home where she watched her mother endure much abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father. Janine was responsible for raising her 4 younger siblings until she fled her home at 17, having decided living on the streets was safer than being at home.   

Janine bounced from house to house, getting into the life of crime and substance abuse. She was in and out of jail for theft charges, possession charges, and prostitution.  She relied on people that were unsafe to keep her alive, but Janine knew that she wasn’t living the life that she was meant to. For 10 years she was a victim of human trafficking, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and when she came to Friends of the Family looking for help, she was out of hope.  

After an assessment with a team member, Janine was pulled into a program the next week. She was contacted by her case manager and a meeting time was arranged. Then Janine’s abuser found her, and she had to cancel the initial intake. Everyone feared for Janine’s safety, and no one was sure when or where she would show up. But three days later she called letting us know she had escaped and was in a secondary safe location where she could meet and complete the paperwork. We had already contacted some landlords on her behalf while waiting to hear from her, so when she resurfaced and was able to move, she got into an apartment outside of the area.  

Janine is thriving today. She is in therapy, medicated for the mental health issues that were created by the trauma she endured, working part time, and is a peer support for other women that are exiting domestic violence relationships. We are so proud to be a support for Janine in her journey! 

Lissa's story

This is Lissa...and where she was living when she connected with FOF.

Lissa had been with her partner for several long years, enduring both physical and emotional abuse. She reached a point that she knew she would die if she stayed in that house. With no money, no support system, and nowhere to go, her solution was a storage unit.

This is the solution for many who are fleeing a violent home or struggling with homelessness. It is far from ideal, or even legal, but it is a safe space even for a short time.

She made a few phone calls and found an open space on the other side of town. While her partner was at work, she packed a few of her possessions and a couple household items in her car and headed for the pawn shop. There she was able to make enough cash to pay for one month’s rent in the storage unit.

The first time she drove into the storage unit lot to unload her car she felt apprehensive and scared. She had no idea how this was going to go, or if she was going to get caught, or maybe her partner would somehow find her, so many thoughts raced through her head. But she knew that she just needed some space and time away from the chaos of that house to figure out what to do next.

It was summertime, so those first few nights were so hot. And she didn’t dare open the door much, for fear that someone would notice. But even though it was hot, she was able to actually sleep…sleep without worrying that she would be woken up by being hit. But she knew she couldn’t stay here for long; this was just temporary.

After several weeks, Lissa reached out to Friends of the Family and was connected to a staff member who was able to get her right onto the prioritization list to await housing. In less than a week she was connected to a landlord whom she signed a lease with. Things moved so fast! She was also connected to several community resources to help with food, furniture, necessities, and her mental health needs.

We are excited to share the Lissa has been in her apartment for almost a month and is doing very well. She is currently job seeking, attending to a few medical needs, and has gained some confidence and self-esteem back.

Lissa shared, "I am so thankful for your help in getting me into an apartment of my own. When I left, I didn't know what was going to happen, I just knew I had to get out. Thank you for continuing to support me while I get this all figured out."


Erica's story

Erica had been surviving on the streets most of her adult life. Her trauma started early on. She never knew a stable home, the comfort of a loving family, or the feeling of safety that comes with that. In her early elementary years, she was a victim of human trafficking. And that led to a childhood riddled with mental, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of several people that came in and out of her life throughout the years.

In adulthood, her struggles with mental health kept her in a cycle of moving back and forth from homeless shelters to the streets. Without a stable base, she was never able to maintain employment for long, which meant that she could not find and maintain housing on her own.

In a gas station, Erica saw a FOF poster for an upcoming night outreach event, where staff would be out walking the streets to connect with people who were experiencing homelessness. And she decided right then that she would seek out FOF to get help.

After reaching out, FOF did an assessment, and it was determined that it was not safe for Erica to remain in her current situation, and she was offered safe shelter and accepted. Her stay in shelter is supporting her growth mentally and physically, and she was recently able to start the housing process. Erica was also connected with multiple community resources to support her in this process.

Erica’s self-esteem is growing, and she is feeling more self-confident every day. She is set to move into her very own apartment soon and is excited for this new chapter in her life.

Erica shared, "I am so thankful for the support that FOF has given me. My life has been so hard, and the road ahead will also be bumpy, but for the first time in my life I feel happy."


Carrie's Story

Carrie is a mother of three, who moved to Iowa from Kentucky after fleeing a violent household. When they first arrived, Carrie was able to find a job and a home on her own. But very soon after settling in, she found out that she had sustained head trauma from the abuse she endured.

Carrie had been so focused on finding safety for herself and children for so long, that she had not been focusing on her own physical health. She became unable to work due to her injuries, and resulted in her falling behind on her rent. Carrie and her children were now facing another crisis, eviction. If she couldn’t pay her back due rent, they would get evicted and have to return to Kentucky...closer to her abuser.

Carrie was referred to Friend of the Family by her doctor’s office. Once connected, she completed an assessment with a housing support specialist. In a month, Carrie was pulled into a housing program, where we were able to pay her back due rent as well as rent for the next few months, allowing her to get back on her feet. Without the stress of homelessness lingering over her, Carrie was able to apply for health insurance and was able to see a specialized doctor about her injuries. Carrie finally got the medical care she needed to heal and eventually get back to work. Now, Carrie can focus on her family in a safe home away from her abuser.

Carrie shared, "Working with Friends of the Family has been such a great experience. Without your support, my children and I would have been evicted and had nowhere to go. We are thankful for our home and your help in keeping us there."


Hope's Story

Hope was a single mother of 2 young boys. She had a life that no one would willingly want to live. She fell victim to substance abuse to numb the pain of childhood trauma, domestic violence, sexual assault, and losing her children to the system due to multiple arrests and being unable to successfully pass drug tests. Hope eventually lost her housing and was subjected to life on the streets, being forced to do things she did not want to do, to have something to eat, a floor to sleep on or a garage to sleep in. Hope stayed in the vicious cycle of doing things that are considered to be risky because, “when you have nothing and you are trying to survive on the streets, you do what you have to do to get by.”  

Hope had enough of life on the streets and reached out to Friends of the Family to see how we could help. An advocate spoke with Hope and after getting a little background, completed an assessment with her. Hope was soon pulled into the Rapid Housing Initiative of North Iowa housing program and was found a cozy 1 bedroom apartment to move into. The case manager worked closely with Hope, building her home from nothing into a safe place for her children, whom she hoped to get back quickly.  

After finding housing and with the support of her case manager, Hope regained contact with her children and was able to start having supervised visits with them. She then found out she was pregnant, and Hope knew this time things would be different. She was connected to other agencies in her area and began her sober living program. She worked with Friends of the Family staff to gain employment and consistently met with her case manager to increase her mental and physical health stability. With clean drug tests, a home, a job, and a stable healthy relationship, Hope was able to go from supervised to unsupervised visits with her boys. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl and remained sober and employed.  

Hope was successfully exited from the RHI-NI program after 9 months. She moved into a house that was more than big enough for her family and graduated from supervised visits to unsupervised visits to full custody of all 3 of her children. Hope continues to be independent in the community, she is still gainfully employed, still sober, and still in a healthy relationship raising her children that are now flourishing in the care of their mother.  

Hope now makes referrals to Friends of the Family, gives back to her community through volunteering, and is proud of herself and where she came from. She attributes her success to having empathetic people believing in her ability to rise into the woman she never thought she could be and stays connected with Friends of the Family Housing Support Staff.  

Hope shared, "I never thought I would be happy again, and I finally am. I am so proud of how far I have come and know I couldn't have done it alone. Thank you FOF!"


Vicky's story

When Vicky first became aware of Friends of the Family and the services we provide, she was living on the streets and actively using drugs. She was seeking rental assistance, but not interested in any other services, such as referrals to a homeless shelter. Vicky had several needs but was hesitant to accept help to move forward.

After working with a Friends of the Family housing support specialist, Vicky began to find hope in her situation, and decided that entering a homeless shelter was her best move. She addressed her addiction, and after several weeks of sobriety, she was able to work towards establishing a safe home for herself where she could continue to work toward positive change. With the support of her specialist, she was able to get connected with several community resources, who worked with FOF to provide her with the assistance to secure housing of her own.

Vicky has just recently been given the keys to her new unit and will move in shortly. She feels confident that she will be able to maintain her home moving forward, and is excited for a stable future where she will work towards several personal goals she has set for herself.  

Vickie shared, “Thank you FOF for the support and guidance you gave me through this process. There was a time that I didn’t see a future for myself or a home of my own. I am so thankful and excited to be moving in soon!”


Jamie's Story

For ten years Jamie spent her time in and out of shelters and on the streets while fleeing domestic violence. With no other options, she did not always know where she would sleep from one night to the next. What Jamie wanted was to find housing of her own where she could feel safe, but she did not know where to go for help until she heard about Friends of the Family.  

When Jamie first reached out for help, we determined that there was a great need for ongoing case management, due to a lack of education, no support system, and years of trauma. We first began by supporting her during her housing search. We were able to connect her with a landlord who was willing to work with her. After obtaining housing, Jamie was able to begin working on life skills and learning how to complete daily tasks independently. Her housing support specialist worked with her to help her develop life skills necessary for long-term success. Soon, her confidence began to increase, and she was able to work through barriers on her own.

Jamie has now been successfully housed for four months, and during that time has grown in her ability to be self-sufficient in daily tasks that are important for her ongoing housing stability. She has worked hard with the guidance of her housing support specialist to prepare herself for maintaining housing long-term. After all she has experienced, she looks forward to setting and attaining even more goals as she continues her journey. 

Jamie shared, "I am so thankful for the support and guidance I received from FOF. I am finally in a place in my life that I feel safe, happy, and excited for my future."


Samantha's Story

Samantha met her abuser when she was young, they moved in together and started building their lives. He treated her with love and respect until one day things changed. He became increasingly more violent and short-tempered with Samantha. He grew jealous and possessive, always checking on her and questioning her every move. Samantha started to stay home more, and even stopped working due to his constant harassing. He had embarrassed her on several occasions at work, and even shown up unannounced demanding to see her in the middle of her shifts as a CNA.

Things escalated to their breaking point one night when her abuser choked her, threw her out of their apartment and down the hallway stairs. He locked her out of their apartment without any of her belongings and refused to let her back in, so she went to stay with a friend. No matter where Samantha ended up, her abuser would find her. He would blow-up her phone from blocked numbers and try to make her feel guilty for leaving by threatening suicide. She needed a safe place of her own to start rebuilding. Samantha heard about Friends of the Family’s services online and after months of bouncing between friends’ houses, she decided to give us a call.

Samantha was pulled into a program and given the financial reassurance to go full force into her housing search. She found a unit all in just one week. The unit had outside security that prevented her abuser from entering the building, even if he did find out where she was living. This gave Samantha a sense of safety that she hadn’t had for years. After finding housing, Samantha was able to set and achieve goals in other aspects of her life. She connected with a comprehensive domestic violence program to help her work through her trauma and heal from the violence she’d experienced. She started working with a local employment agency to renew her CNA license and was able to get back to the career she loved. Samantha’s power and control was taken from her for so long and finding housing of her own was the first step in taking it back.

Samantha shared, "FOF helped me find a safe place to live - I am forever grateful. I was ready to give up, but FOF gave me hope. I now have my own place and a good job, I couldn't have done it without FOF's support."