Ready To Go Home

Dylan Novacek March 20, 2020

Written by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist

“Running a household seems nearly impossible when there isn’t a roof over your head.”

For Marissa, that household included nine children. Every task – from preparing lunches in the morning to getting teeth brushed at night – became that much harder without a home. And finding a home – even with a rare housing voucher in hand – for a family that large was an uphill battle.

“Marissa was so strong for her children,” said Shelter & Housing Case Manager Vang Yang (pictured left). At Beacon’s Families Moving Forward shelter program, families work with case managers such as Vang to find housing and get back on their feet. Working with Marissa’s family was impactful for Vang as she looks back on their journey to a new home.

“She was so worried about her children. Not all her kids were with her in the shelter. She missed them so much,” Vang sighed sadly as she considered what Marissa had been going through. “She’s a hard-working mother who always puts her kids first. This motivated her to keep going, even when it got hard.”

The biggest road block for Marissa was the lack of affordable homes for such a large family. She was lucky to even have a housing voucher; most people in her situation don’t receive the assistance they qualify for. While the average stay at Families Moving Forward is about three months, Marissa’s family stayed for six months.

“We had searched for a new home and almost had one for her. It fell through. She was devastated, almost ready to give up,” Vang said, reliving the anxiety and uncertainty of that moment. “But she went online and got on the phone right away. I saw the motivation and fire burning in her eyes. On hard days, she didn’t want to stop. Marissa pushed hard.”

At the program center, FMF serves as a home base for families in need. Arriving to the center each morning, Marissa got her kids ready for school and spent the days working with out staff to search for a home.

It takes roughly $450 a night to shelter and support Marissa’s family at FMF, in addition to support from volunteers in hosting congregations. Staff members like Vang understand how having a stable home can enable growth and success.

“People make mistakes, and we give families a chance to grow from them. We are all worthy of having a home,” Vang smiled as she thought about the comforts of her own home.

“Home is happiness. Having a stable home will help you reach your goals.”

The day finally came when Marissa was able to find a five-bedroom house for her and the kids. It was an exciting and emotional day for everyone. One Vang won’t soon forget.

“Working with Marissa’s family made me realize that you need to appreciate every moment you have with your kids,” Vang reflected. “You can’t give up, Marissa taught me that. Even though things might go against you, know you are the key to your own success.”

Marissa’s heart is complete as she and her nine children are under one roof again. Being able to make home cooked meals, the family feels a sense of stability again.

“I remember working with her 16-year-old daughter who loved to draw. She would show me all her work and share her hobbies with me. I am so glad she and her siblings will have a stable home where they can do what they love and grow up. I am glad Marissa and her kids have this stability.” Vang paused, smiling as she thought about Marissa’s family.

There are families just like Marissa’s throughout the state who lack the resources to find that stability. Through Beacon’s shelter program and hosting congregations, more than 50 families – like Marissa’s – each year know they won’t have to face homeless for long.

Shelter is a necessary resource for these families, but the underlying problem is that there simply isn’t enough supportive housing for them. Beacon is currently working on 150 new supportive homes for families in three communities, each with a need for $750,000 in launch funding from the community. For 150 families like Marissa, these homes make all the difference.

“Marissa’s success is so important to us,” Vang lit up with pride, feeling fulfilled in Beacon’s mission to serve families in need. “It’s sometimes bittersweet to see a family move to the next steps, because I want to see them through it. I remember the last day Marissa came to the shelter to pack up her things. She smiled at me and said, ‘I’m ready to go home.’”

For Marissa and her family, they were lucky to have a housing voucher. At Beacon, we aim to change polices so that all families can get the resources needed to find a home. Click here to learn more about Beacon’s Bring It Home Minnesota campaign.