You may have heard or read about NATH (Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing, Inc.) and its emergency, temporary shelter, Frederick Place. Perhaps you are a bit curious about the families and single adults from the Northwoods area who are experiencing homelessness. The following paragraphs will give you a glimpse into the lives of a few Frederick Place residents.
You’ve heard it said: “They’re lazy.” “They don’t want to work.” “They spend all their money on alcohol or drugs.” These are common misconceptions of the homeless. Frederick Place has been in operation for over a year and we have seen first hand, that these are not the common traits of those experiencing homelessness. Everyone has their own story, their own set of circumstances which lead them to our doorstep. Here is what a few had to say, when asked: “What was the change of circumstances, or what happened that rendered you homeless?”
Bruce was doing well, living a simple life. “I just wanted to improve my living conditions,” he said. “So I found a nicer place to live, gave my landlord 30 days’ notice, and got a loan for the $200 Security Deposit for the new place. Everything was all set to go. Then suddenly the new landlady decided not to rent to me. Now I’m out my $200 and my old landlord found a new tenant. I had nowhere else to go. My friends use and drink. I can’t be around that. I am so thankful that Frederick Place is here. I just don’t know what I would do otherwise.”
Bruce stayed at Frederick Place for only 16 nights. While he was here, staff helped him fill out paperwork, put him in touch with help to recover his $200, and gave him contact information to his new landlord. He is now residing at his own apartment.
Dan was on the path to recovery. “I had been sober for 6 months, then I moved in with my friend. He went with me to a couple of AA meetings. But he didn’t want to quit. Somehow, someway, I started drinking with him. I didn’t want that, and I knew I couldn’t be around it. I had to leave to stay sober.” Dan is now employed; searching for an apartment, regularly attends AA meetings, and is sober.
Mindy was working full-time, and living in a nice place with her son. A chain of events lead her to Frederick Place. “It was a combination of things,” she explains. Mindy told me about her landlady, “She was harassing me. She called my job. She spied on me. I saw her go in my garage and dump my garbage on the ground… When I tried to talk to her about it, she evicted us.” Mindy had five days to leave, so she and her son moved in with her parents, while she looked for a place of their own.
“It was really small and cramped; we slept in their Living Room. It was hard for my parents, my dad wasn’t used to having kids around, and it was a long drive to take Billy to school.” Then, in a week, it went from bad to worse when, through no fault of her own, Mindy’s job was terminated. Mindy and Billy are now residing at Frederick Place and she has recently landed a very nice full-time position. She will soon move into her own apartment.
To save money, Linda and her two small children rented an apartment with some friends. “We were going to split the rent three ways,” she recalled. “But, in less than a month, I got in a fight with one of my roommates. She went to the landlord and said that my kids were destroying the house, which wasn’t true, but he said I had to leave. I didn’t have any money saved to rent my own place.” With only a part-time job, Linda is struggling to save enough money to get her own place, and be able to support herself and her two adorable little ones.
It can happen very quickly: all it takes is an illness, loss of a job or having work hours reduced, a major car repair, getting behind in rent or utilities… Homelessness can happen to anyone. No one is immune. Now, thanks to this wonderful community, we can offer help to those who find themselves in this position. Thank you to all who donate time, talents, and/or items. Together, we can end and prevent homelessness.
For more information about Frederick Place and NATH, call Tammy Modic, NATH Executive Director, at (715) 369-9777.