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A bridge between homelessness and hope
“Now what do I do?” Loretta broke down. She was desperate. Her young daughter, Teresa, had become very ill in the previous month and the doctor had prescribed a very expensive medication. Right around the same time, Loretta’s boss had started cutting her hours at work; so she had not made her full salary for several weeks straight. Loretta did what most of us would do under these circumstances: she skimped on the rent and made sure her daughter got the medicine she needed.
That’s when she got a letter from her landlord threatening to bring her to eviction court.
Luckily, Loretta found Housing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP) and called us. After she filled out a rental assistance application and showed us her rent bill, pay stubs, and other expenses, we were able to see that a one-time grant of $1,000 would help her out of her hole and let her get her life back on track. And that is what she did, avoiding eviction court and the potentially devastating consequences to her credit history. And Teresa did not have to move and start over at a new school.
Too many working families in our community are, like Loretta, just a layoff, a divorce, an unexpected car repair, or an illness away from a housing crisis and potential homelessness. In the past six weeks, HIP has received six requests from area residents in difficult situations like Loretta’s. If they are unable to secure the financial assistance they need, they will likely lose their home – and many of their belongings – and be forced to move out of our community.
“Housing insecurity is an important source of employment insecurity among low-income workers,” wrote Matthew Desmond in his recent book, Evicted.
Housing insecurity is at the heart of why HIP was started 12 years ago and why we are now responding to the growing crisis to help working families who just need a one-time infusion of financial assistance to stay in a safe home and to ensure their children have access to our community’s excellent public schools.
Last year, the HIP Board of Trustees established the Ruth Thurmond Scott Rental Assistance Fund. This fund is earmarked exclusively to pay rent in arrears, security deposit, or first month’s rent for qualifying area families, making it possible for families like Loretta and Teresa’s to avoid homelessness, remain in their jobs and in our community. It complements our ongoing transitional housing program which provides 12-24 months of housing coupled with individually-tailored case management services that help working families advance towards long-term self-sufficiency.
The need we are seeing throughout Princeton is unprecedented. For many families, the economic recession of 2008 never ended. Their economic precariousness is real and pressing. HIP has a model that works.
But, we can’t do it without you. Your generous donation of $25 or more will help us help working families like Loretta’s and will ensure that Princeton and the surrounding area continues to be a diverse community where people from various walks of life can thrive.
Carol L. Golden, Interim Chair
Neighbors Helping NeighborsHousing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP) is dedicated to transitioning low-income working families who are facing imminent homelessness to permanent housing and sustained self-sufficiency. HIP also helps to prevent homelessness for low-income working families who fall behind in their rent. Your tax-deductible support helps to offset expenses such as rent, utilities, and professional case management services for our clients.
“When I found the program, I was in a terrible situation, no place to live, we did not have enough money for rent, and I get a divorce from the kids’ father…we are homeless for a couple of months. When Miss Ruth gave us the keys to the new home and the kids went inside the apartment--we did not know the apartment, one of my kids started to cry, because it was more than we are expecting, basically, like magic we received a home.” ---Shenny
After moving out of HIP housing, this family has established roots in Princeton, living in an affordable housing community in town. The mother has stable, full-time employment while the sons are thriving in Princeton Public Schools.