After the sudden death of her 14-year-old daughter’s godmother, Tamra Holmes had nowhere left to turn but the shelters. Her credit score dropped and she was struggling to make ends meet with part time employment. She found temporary relief in a rehousing program that quickly got her into a lease of a basement apartment, but the landlord held her financially responsible for many of the apartments less than optimal facilities, crippling her ability to meet her savings goals.
Months of harassment and stress from her landlord impacted Holmes’ mental health—she wasn’t sleeping, she slipped into depression, and her bills piled up. When she came to Project Homeless Connect in 2018, she desperately needed assistance breaking her lease and reducing the increasing charges from her landlord. Within the year of receiving assistance, Holmes found a new apartment and now returned to Project Homeless Connect in 2019 as a volunteer.
The one day, one stop shop for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness is United Way NCA’s flagship event to help bring critical resources to our most vulnerable neighbors. Project Homeless Connect unites government, nonprofit, corporate and philanthropic entities in an easy to navigate environment and makes available a variety of services such as access to social security cards and government IDs, health screenings, legal assistance, case workers and follow up care.
“Nobody in a homeless situation should be looked down upon, or judged, or made to feel bad,” shares Holmes.
The reality of becoming homeless is not something many of us process in our day to day lives. The truth is that many of us live closer to it than we’d like to believe. According to a recent study from Prosperity Now 40% of Americans are liquid asset poor and would be unable to make ends meet if laid off from a job or burdened by an emergency. Additionally, the 2018 ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) report, a United Way conducted study, asserts that the stability of households in the region continue to struggle. Low wage jobs dominate the local economy, with more than a majority paying employees less than $20 an hour. For many of our neighbors living without housing in the increasingly unaffordable regions of the DMV, they may work two or three jobs just to make ends meet and fall victim to a layoff, medical emergency, or a flood.
United Way NCA and its partners are tackling homelessness in the region by helping lift our neighbors out of poverty through programs like Project Homeless Connect. To learn more about Project Homeless Connect or to engage please visit unitedwaynca.org/phc
It’s only because of the power of partners that United Way of the National Capital Area is able to do the work that it does. Thank you to Care First Blue Cross Blue Shield, M&T Bank, WHUR, and Comcast in helping United Way NCA build capacity.