Elected Officials Must Increase Funding for Homelessness Assistance

Crystal Shares Her Experience of Being Homeless and a Single Mother

Tomorrow Crystal Fedeli will share her story and experience with homelessness at this year’s Congressional Reception in Washington, DC. Along with thirteen other speakers, Crystal will help make sure that elected officials and advocates know that Opportunity Starts at Home.

Crystal lives in Stockton, New Jersey and is a constituent of US Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-7).

Since the age of 19, Crystal has been on her own. She had to support herself, always working multiple jobs. Crystal was accepted into a Master of Social Work program but soon after, she found out that she was pregnant.

Crystal and her daughter

While managing life with a newborn baby, Crystal began her MSW program and initially did very well. However, things quickly changed for her and her daughter. After being kicked out a family member’s house, she became overwhelmed. After a change in her address, she stopped receiving social services assistance from her county which made her situation even more stressful. Crystal developed postpartum depression.

Crystal did not know where she and her infant were going to stay night to night before she received temporary housing. She and her daughter relied on food stamp benefits that were meant for one person.   Local social services would not increase her family’s benefits for the first few months of her baby’s life despite Crystal’s numerous attempts to adjust her food stamp benefits.

Crystal was not able to get on the waiting list for a Housing Choice Voucher until a few months after she acquired permanent housing.   And then her name was removed from  the waiting list after her paperwork was late. Crystal was repeatedly turned away from receiving services and housing. To combat her postpartum depression, she took time off of school, which she is thankful she did.  But the consequence of doing this was thather school would not accept the medical documentation that she handed it that stated that she should immediately take time off of school.

With the financial and emotional support of Family Promise of Hunterdon County, Crystal found an apartment in Stockton for herself and her daughter.  This promise took almost five months. She says the her studio apartment is better than many other individuals have.

Crystal can now meet all her and her daughter’s basic needs. She works at the Office of the Public Defender, is able to pay rent for her market-rate apartment and is less stressed about providing her daughter with what she needs. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach or running.

This year, one of the Federal Policy Priorities is increasing funding for Housing and Services, specifically for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. These grants provide funds for homeless shelters and services. If there was more funding for these grants, Crystal would have likely been able to receive necessary services earlier.

Also, below is a video of Elizabeth Rogers of Homeless Solutions, a 2019 Congressional Reception Partner, discusses the importance of the Congressional Reception which will take place in less than 24 hours!