Housing with support helps Jackie make ends meet

Posted on October 2nd, 2015

Jackie and kids

On the last day of April 2006, Jackie lost her job as a manager at a Saint Paul Goodwill store.

Losing her income meant losing her apartment, too.

She had a 6-year-old son, Tyler – and she was pregnant.

Jackie could not afford an apartment on the small amount of financial assistance she received from the county. She stayed at shelters and with friends which was especially tough with children.

“It’s not what you really want. When Tupac [now 8] was born we were staying in an apartment in somebody’s basement, renting.”

After a couple of years without stable housing, the family connected with Simpson Housing Services through a supportive housing program where they stayed for two years.

Then, there was an available apartment at Third Avenue Townhomes. It’s been five years since they moved in – and the combination of housing and support is giving Tyler and Tupac a solid foundation.

Tyler is excited to start at Washburn High School this year. He hopes to add to his display of medals for basketball and football adorning the living room. It’s a relief to Jackie to know she can count on him to babysit his brother Tupac, a third-grader, for the hour after school before she gets home.

Jackie isn’t exactly on easy street. She works full time as a housekeeper at the Hotel Minneapolis, earning $10.50 an hour, $16 if she works overtime.  “I still struggle paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “But it’s a good place to work, with good people.”

What has helped is having affordable rent and support to stay on top of utility bills and other expenses. She meets regularly with her Simpson Housing Services advocate to make sure she’s staying on track with her bills. She and the boys attend community events including educational speakers on topics such as parenting and health, and outings including movie nights, the zoo or the roller rink. There’s an adopt-a-family program at the holidays and back-to-school backpacks –all elements that make it a little easier for a single mom juggling a lot.

“Of all the places I’ve lived, this is probably the nicest,” Jackie said.  “I’m thankful for this.”

This story was written and published by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative.