Not All Families Have a Home for Mother’s Day

Formerly Homeless Mom Shares
Her Housing Success Story

Mothers DayThis Mother’s Day will be special for Mildred Bernadine.

Last year, she spent Mother’s Day living with her family in her car and wondering if her family’s problems were ever going to end.

That image is a stark contrast to the breakfasts in bed and brunches out at local restaurants that many mothers will enjoy this year.

In late winter 2015, Mildred worked as a home health aide. But when the caseload of the agency she worked for fell, it her hours. At the same time, her mom who lived in Haiti became seriously ill and Mildred used her precious savings to travel to Haiti to ensure she received the medical care needed. Mildred came home with the expectation that work for her would pick up but worse, she could not find work.

Mildred’s landlord tried to work with her because she was a great tenant, but with no income to pay her rent, she was being evicted. In his latest book Evicted, author and researcher Matthew Desmond explores our countries Eviction crisis.

“Every year in this country families are evicted from their homes not by the tens of thousands or even the hundreds of thousands, but by the millions.”

Desmond writes.

Mildred and her two children then moved to a hotel for a month. At the time, her daughter Dorothea, was a high school senior and grades began to tumble. Her 13-year old brother Stephen began to misbehave in school. Then life got worse.

Mildred went to agency after agency requesting assistance but no help was available. She ran out of money to pay for the hotel room and her family began living in the car.

“I didn’t sleep for weeks. I would stay up all night turning my head over my shoulder to watch over my children.”

Said Mildred.

After living in her car for three weeks, Mildred was finally directed to the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless.

The Coalition placed Mildred in the Hospitality House Program, a transitional housing for working homeless families.

“I slept for a week!”

Mildred said.

Then Mildred’s life turned around. With a place to call home, Mildred found permanent work in a nursing home. Her daughter’s grades went up, she attended the prom and she graduated.

Dorothea is now also a Home Health Aide, working full time and attending college. Her brother Stephen, is thriving in school and playing on his junior high football team.

Best of all, they all just moved into their own apartment! Mildred is looking forward to celebrating Mother’s Day in her own home, safe and surrounded by her children.

Based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless works with the mission to serve the needs of the homeless and near homeless.

Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless