Empowered By Orange County United Way

A Home for Christmas: Ending Homelessness for a Family of Five

Cassidy, her boyfriend and their 3 children ages 11 months, 5 years and 3 years old.

Cassidy, a 25-year-old was overjoyed to celebrate Christmas in a new home with her family.

In January 2019, Cassidy and her boyfriend were forced to leave their living situation and they weren’t prepared for the struggle that came next. After her boyfriend gained custody of his two children, the four of them ended up spending the next 10 months living in a motel. They were homeless.

In the year following, Cassidy says they spent every day and weekend trying to find transitional living that would accept their entire family. During that time, the family also welcomed a new baby.

“While living in the motel, all five of us were sharing one room and paying nearly $2,000 a month,” said Cassidy. “It was incredibly hard to save our money and no transitional living facilities would take us in at the time.”

As a former foster youth, Cassidy stayed well connected with Orangewood Foundation, who eventually helped her apply for a Family Unification Program voucher, which is given to young adults who have left or will be leaving foster care and are either currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

After receiving her voucher, she was connected with United to End Homelessness’ WelcomeHomeOC Program in June 2020.

“I filled out the paperwork as soon as the opportunity was presented to me and within two weeks, I was told I received a voucher. For this all to come together so quickly was absolutely amazing. From the time we got the voucher, were connected to WelcomeHomeOC and placed into a home, it took just a few months,” said Cassidy.

WelcomeHomeOC not only helped find her a two-bedroom apartment to accommodate the whole family but also provided the family with funds for furniture, a refrigerator and handled the security deposit payment.

The family was welcomed into their new home on December 12, 2020, just in time for the holidays. “It felt so amazing to be in our own home. Even our neighbors welcomed us with open arms and provided us with Christmas decorations,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy struggled for two years and went through a lot of trial and error trying to find a suitable living situation for her family.

“I look back on the last two years and I’m amazed by the transformation. From growing our family to struggling to find a home, it feels so good to finally be in this place and I’m so grateful for WelcomeHomeOC,” Cassidy said.

Before moving in, Cassidy and her boyfriend talked about long terms goals and dreams now that they have a place to call their own.

“We promised each other we would do everything in our power to maintain this lifestyle. We are grateful and will remain humble and thankful for everything we’ve received this last year,” Cassidy added.

Being a former foster youth and having been a part of the system from ages 14 to 18, Cassidy says she has always craved stability.

“There are so many things that I didn’t get to accomplish that I hope to now, like getting my drivers license and finishing college. I’m willing to work for it and will not take this new stability for granted. I’ve been given an opportunity to focus on the things that matter the most,” Cassidy concluded.