Category Archives: Client Stories

Home Sweet Home

Robert Jackson finally has a place to call home.

You may remember Robert’s story from a previous newsletter or from our website. Robert is a disabled father with a robust 12-year-old son. He left Room at the Inn six months ago and moved into Family Haven, a longer-term shelter, as he waited for permanent housing for individuals on disability to become available.

During his stay at Room at the Inn, client coordinator Angie Hamilton let Robert know about the housing programs available through BJC Behavioral Health. His BJC caseworker, Rochelle Nevels, helped Robert find an apartment through Shelter Plus Care. This is a housing subsidy provided through the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Shelter Plus Care vouchers are good for five years and within that five years, recipients must maintain services with the DMH provider.

Robert and his son, Demetrius, moved into their new home on August 1st. Angie recently visited them to follow up on their progress. Father and son now live on a quiet street with a good sized yard for Demetrius to practice his favorite sports, basketball and football. A bright young man who inherited his father’s gentle spirit, Demetrius is looking forward to starting seventh grade at his new school.

When asked about his new apartment and life, Robert just smiled.

“God blessed me, that’s all I can say,” says Robert.

Success One Person at a Time

Read about two recent success stories of former clients who are transitioning into housing.

Keyanna Roddy, 18, came to Room at the Inn in January 2011.

Already the mother of a 19 month old son, William, and five months pregnant, Keyanna found herself homeless when her mother asked her to leave. Keyanna called the homeless hotline and was referred to Room at the Inn. Shortly after she and William arrived, it was apparent to client coordinator Angie Hamilton that Keyanna needed help with her parenting skills.

“I put her into classes offered by Parents as Teachers and Lutheran Family and Children’s Services,” says Angie. “She also attended child therapist appointments through Catholic Family Services. I saw improvement in Keyanna’s parenting skills during the 48 days she was at Room at the Inn.” All three of these service providers assisted Keyanna on-site.

Angie also helped the young mother pursue housing through HUD. Keyanna’s name is on a waiting list and she is currently living with a family member while she waits for an opening.

Keyanna gave birth to her second son, Andre, in May 2011. Angie recently visited Keyanna and her family to follow-up on their progress. Accompanied by practicum student James Washington, she brought a supply of diapers and personal hygiene items for Keyanna.

“I loved the staff and the people at Room at the Inn. They helped me a lot,” says Keyanna.

Keyanna’s plans are to go back to school and find a job so she can support her family.

Jennifer Miller became homeless when her previous landlord went into foreclosure. The new landlord wanted to “start over” so all current tenants were asked to vacate, including Jennifer. She was referred to Room at the Inn by the Housing Resource Center in June 2011.

Very soon, Jennifer will be moving into permanent housing at Springwood Apartments, in St. Louis. She qualified for the apartment through the Supported Community Living Program (SCLP) with the help of her caseworker, Kiwana Thomas, at BJC Behavioral Health.

SCLP is a housing subsidy provided by the Missouri Department of Mental Health. The program also pays for other needs like transportation or household items to help clients obtain and maintain independent housing, when struggling with mental illness.

Angie prepared the residency letter needed to qualify Jennifer for housing. Through the Missouri Housing Trust Fund, Angie also is working on providing Jennifer with assistance for gas and electric.

“Part of the function of the client coordinator is to be knowledgeable on resources like these to help our clients,” says Sister Joann Nowak, the program director of Room at the Inn. “Angie does a wonderful job of finding these resources and working with the agencies to transition clients into housing.”

Jennifer thought the program at Room at the Inn was really good, especially the group classes. She also felt the staff and the volunteers at the night sites were very helpful. Jennifer benefited from the opportunities offered to her through Room at the Inn. She is now ready to take her next step toward self-reliance and is looking forward to her new apartment.

“I want to hurry up and move in,” says Jennifer with a smile.

Room at the Inn is classified as an emergency shelter. Many clients leave to enter a long-term shelter but others like Keyanna and Jennnifer move directly into transitional or permanent housing. By following Angie’s guidance and working out a plan, clients can achieve self-sufficiency and a home of their own

Debra Gives Back to Room at the Inn

Debra is giving back to Room at the Inn – by styling hair.

She knows first hand what the clients are going through. In 2008, Debra had separated from her husband and was unexpectedly laid off from her job. She turned to Room at the Inn to help her get back on her feet. Fortunately, Debra had a car and was soon able to return to work. She saved up for her first month’s rent and moved into an apartment. Room at the Inn assisted with the security deposit, a microwave and a few gift cards to help Debra settle in.

Debra also decided to start a new career. She received her cosmetology license in December 2010 and is currently offering “mobile” salon services to her growing list of clients. Even though she has moved forward in life, Debra’s heart is still very much at Room at the Inn. She recently came back to the shelter to share her time and styling talents with current clients.

“I always think of the women in the program,” Debra explained. “This was something I wanted to do. Not only because I was here and in the same position but because it was something I wanted to do.”

Debra is also sharing her story with the women to let them know their time at Room at the Inn isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. She wants them to feel as encouraged as she was during her stay.

“I tell them − this was a place I was once in and I was happy here. I worked through the program and kept plugging away at whatever I had to do to exit the program,” Debra said. “It’s home for sure. It’s a wonderful set up.”

Debra is planning to visit Room at the Inn a couple times a month to style hair and give manicures to clients.

“I love Room at the Inn,” she said.

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