Lilly Jones and her 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys, became residents of the shelter this past spring when the family lost their primary source of income. They had been moving from family members’ houses to friends’ houses and back, really staying with anyone that had the space and ability to take them in. Lily knew she needed some more structure for herself and her family and eventually entered Carpenter’s Shelter. The transition from living in and enjoying their own home to moving into the shelter was trying for the children. The kids had to change schools, an added disruption to an already difficult time; and their mom had to start looking for jobs that would be able to support her and her family eventually moving back into their own home. Minimum wage in this area, however, won’t get you your own place when the average cost for a 3-bedroom apartment is over $2,000 per month.

With each deposit Lilly made into her savings account, she became one step closer to being able to move her family back in to their own home. Ms. Jones along with the shelter case managers and housing staff determined a rental budget affordable to the family and a location in which this rental budget could be a reality. The next step was for our Carpenter’s Shelter housing team to recruit a landlord with a home big enough to rent to the family that was also within the family’s budget, a challenging feat in the high-priced Northern Virginia rental market.

The prospective home was a multi-level townhome that was spacious and accommodating for the large family. The Jones eagerly submitted their rental application and were initially denied. The general rule for approving renters is that they demonstrate their income is three times that of the rent. Even with Mrs. Jones’ income, it was still considered insufficient to show the landlord that there were no risks associated with renting to the family. We knew this home was one of the only options affordable to the family and as a result, Carpenter’s Shelter through our Rapid Re-Housing program along with the City of Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services provided the upfront rental costs, the security deposit and the pro-rated first month rent and second-month rent, that would have otherwise prevented the family from being able to move into the townhome; and such is the case for many families experiencing homelessness who are trying to move into a home in our community.

Carpenter’s families have encountered some bumps in the road that have ultimately led to them to experience homelessness. Carpenter’s is fortunate to have the resources and services available to move our families as quickly as possible from homelessness to their own homes, and once in the community, we continue to provide any needed support and assistance. Our Rapid Re-Housing program provided much needed help to the family and now, the Jones family has a place to call home.