A family facing homelessness served by Madison County Community Development, serving Madison County.
Jeannie can recall vividly the day she learned her landlord planned to kick her family out of their apartment and throw their belongings to the curb. “I was scared to death,” she said. “It all kind of tumbled down at one time.”
She had been running a successful, in-home day care service out of the apartment she rented for about $400 a month. At the time, she also was caring for her 20-year-old daughter and baby grandson. The family learned that the landlord was raising the rent to a price they couldn’t afford and that they would either have to find a new place or become homeless. Without steady income from the day care service, the chances of renting elsewhere were slim. “We just thought, ’We have nowhere to go.’” she said. “You’re scared, and you don’t know what to do. You think, ’What did (I) do wrong? Why is all of this happening to me?’”
The answers to her questions and prayers came after a telephone call to Good Samaritan House—a not-for-profit temporary home in Granite City that serves homeless women and children. “They just opened their arms to all of us,” she said. There, she learned over the next three months that the circumstances of homelessness doesn’t target specific people, that help is available and that hope was not something to throw away. Like many other homeless people, she had never thought she would be in such a predicament.
She and her family lived in the shelter about 90 days where she cooked meals, met regularly with a caseworker and learned “life skills,” such as budgeting. She found a job with a day care agency and began renting a one-bedroom house through the Madison County Transitional Housing Program. Under the program, she received rental assistance based on what she could afford. During her first months in her new home, she returned to Good Samaritan House, but for a different reason—to get a job and return a favor. “I always kidded that I would be back,” she said. “I felt indebted to Good Samaritan House. I’m where I am at now because of their support.”
She started at Good Samaritan House as a part-time staff worker, answering telephones, assigning chores and monitoring residents two or three days a week. Eventually, she took on a full-time role; she now conducts resident meetings and helps with the cooking and planning of nutritional meals. She also finds time to volunteer at the Good Samaritan House Resale Shop. “Never put yourself above being homeless,” she said. “Don’t think it can’t happen to you.”