From Homeless to a House with Running WaterBy Arthur Bridgeforth Jr.
Detroiter Felicia C. by profession was the person people seek out for assistance with various issues in the community, until she found herself needing help from some of the same agencies she routinely told others to seek out.
Felicia, a Michigan State University alum with a bachelor’s degree in family community services, has been homeless for a month.
The good news is she has found a new place to live, but her current financial situation put roadblocks in the way of arranging utility services for her new home. She managed to elude those roadblocks—except for her water bill.
Felicia couldn’t afford the required $150 deposit necessary to start water service in her name. Water service was included in the rent at her former home. But, thanks to The Human Utility, Felicia will have her deposit paid for water service. Now she can move into her new home. Felicia said she found out about The Human Utility via a Google search.
So how did she get into this situation?
For the past three years, Felicia has been on the employment carousel: landing a job, being laid-off when funding for her position ends, and then finding yet another job with the same result.
“I always find myself employed or working with nonprofit agencies, which I love doing the work but a lot of times as you know programs are grant funded, programs are ended and there goes the staff for that particular project,” Felicia said. “And that’s been the story of my life for my past three jobs being laid-off because the grant program ended and a contract wasn’t renewed.”
The instability in her employment created a slow pay situation with her landlord that led to an eviction from her eastside Detroit home after her lease wasn’t renewed.
So, the 46-year-old single mother with two sons ages 16 and five-years-old stayed with friends and family over the past month. Even though she was evicted, she still was employed.
Felicia describes herself as currently underemployed, parceling two part-time jobs together with the Black Caucus Foundation as an adolescent prevention facilitator teaching prevention and life skills to middle school and high school students; and a chore provider through the Golden Years Advocate.
She said she loves both jobs.
“So that’s what I’m doing now, but still looking for that full, full-time job,” Felicia said.
As she prepares to move into her home she has one more thing to deal with—finding a refrigerator and stove—but that won’t stop her.
“DHS (Michigan Department of Human Services) and other agencies have taken care of my lights and gas so I’m pretty much okay,” Felicia said. “I’m feeling blessed and fortunate for me and my children, I really am.”
As for the future, she is hoping to return to school to earn an additional bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a masters degree to have more job options that pay more and aren’t as subject to the life of grant funding.
The Human Utility, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2014, is dedicated to helping low-income families and seniors in the United States pay their water bills to restore or preserve their service. Through our website, we match donors to families for support. With donations from $5 to $5000 we have helped over 950 families get their water turned back on. Give today. Every drop in the bucket makes a difference!