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One call for help in Ramsey County
January 3, 2014

I can only imagine what it’s like to be a parent, homeless, small children's faces looking up at me and trusting me to keep it all together.

Anastasia and Jonathan, parents of three sons, ages 7, 6 and 5, and a daughter, 3, know because it happened to them.

Their east St. Paul apartment changed hands and their lease was not renewed. They found themselves at a bus stop one day last November calling all the shelters they knew of, but there were no openings.

Four kids, November. No. Place. To. Go. That. Night.

As evening grew closer, they started calling everyone else they could think of who might put them up.

I can only imagine the fortitude it takes to keep telling your story over and over every time you call a new shelter, another friend to ask a big favor. I imagine it would wear me down pretty quickly.

This story has a happy ending for this family – and for other Ramsey County families facing homelessness.

A friend of a family member finally offered to put the couple and their children up for a few nights in his tiny apartment. Four days later there was an opening at Families Moving Forward. After several months in our program and many apartment searches – it is difficult to find affordable housing for six – the family is now happily housed and moving toward a more stable, prosperous future with the support of our staff and volunteers.

And, if Anastasia and Jonathan were standing at that bus stop today, they would only have to make a single call to 651-215-2262, the new Ramsey County system called Coordinated Access to Housing and Shelter.

CAHS as it’s called, is a streamlined approach connecting families facing homelessness with the best fit for them, whether emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, supportive housing or transitional housing. It’s the kind of service that makes sense and uses resources wisely to help people most efficiently and effectively.

This system change won’t end homelessness, but it’s a small step that should ease the burden on parents who find themselves seeking shelter, hoping for home.