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General Resident Stories

From Homelessness to Home at Last

By Jessica Parker
Former Cross Roads House resident Linda with her five children
Former Cross Roads House resident Linda surrounded by her five children during a holiday portrait session at the shelter.
“My life before Cross Roads House was hectic.”

When Linda and her five children, ages 12-18, arrived at Cross Roads House last fall, they had not had a stable place to live for a couple of years.

“My life before Cross Roads House was hectic. In March 2017 my husband and I split up. We were all living together as a family up until that point. My children were living with their father for a while after that. I stayed in a shelter, stayed with friends, and stayed in a rooming house. Then I got custody of my kids. We went and stayed with friends for a little while and that didn’t work out, so we were staying in a motel until we came here.”

While it was not the family’s first time staying in a shelter, Linda was determined it would be their last. “I was scared and nervous coming to Cross Roads House because I’ve been at two other shelters before. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came here. I was thinking it might be like the same situation I’d been in before, but the whole experience was different.”

“The whole world changed in a matter of days.”

Linda and her case manager Vicki developed a plan to find a permanent home for the family, and Linda began working on it right away. “I feel like there was a lot of support here. Case management started right away, and we met once a week, sometimes more than that. I felt like I could go to Vicki and tell her anything and she would help me. Before, I didn’t feel comfortable opening up to people like that, but if you can’t tell your case manager what you need or what’s happening, how are they going to help you?”

Finding an apartment was particularly difficult for Linda, because her needs were so great. She was a single mother looking for an affordable apartment for a family of six. “People wonder why I can’t just get an apartment without assistance, but it’s because I wouldn’t be able to afford an apartment that could house all of us. Prices on a three or four bedroom are at least $1,500 a month. I’ve worked mainly in manufacturing jobs in my life and that income wouldn’t be enough to pay for an apartment at that price, not to mention all the bills that come with it. Even if I did get an apartment that I couldn’t really afford, after a couple of months, I’d be back here again. So I did need housing assistance.”

In early spring, it felt like new challenges brought on by the pandemic might undo the progress Linda had made. Apartments seemed scarcer, her job training program was halted, and her children began learning remotely from their room at the shelter. “The whole world changed in a matter of days, and it was already stressful. I was trying to do remote learning for five kids, two in the same grade, but all learning at different levels, in one room at a shelter, so that was really chaotic and hard.”

Linda felt the preventative measures implemented by Cross Roads House put her more at ease. “I was very scared of the virus at first. I have asthma, and four out of five of my kids have asthma. I thought that healthy people were dying, so for people like us with compromised lungs it’s really scary. Staff has been really on top of things. I always see people doing extra cleaning, you installed the hand wash stations, do everyday temperature checks and screening, and a lot of other stuff.”

“This is the most stable we’ve been for a couple of years.”
Former Cross Roads House resident Linda with the keys to her new apartment
Former Cross Roads House resident Linda with the keys to her new apartment.

Despite many extraordinary hurdles, Linda persevered, and in October the family moved out of the shelter and into their own apartment. “When I applied for housing, Rochester said it might be a three-year wait. So I was surprised when I opened the letter and it said they were offering me an apartment. I wasn’t sure if I really got it. I brought the letter over to Vicki and said, ‘I’m not sure if I should get excited or not?’, and she said, ‘Yes, get excited!’”

Linda will be working with Lisa, a Housing Stability Case Manager from Cross Roads House, who will provide post-shelter support as she transitions into her new home. “This is my first ever time having an apartment by myself. Lisa will be able to connect me to other resources. If I have questions she’ll be able to help me. This is a whole new experience for me, moving into my own place, with just me and my children. It’s exciting and kind of scary. I’ve lived in an apartment with the kids and their father, I’ve had a room in a rooming house, but this is an apartment, and it’s just me. It’s different. So I really want that extra support.”

Linda is grateful for all of the donors who helped her during her journey here at Cross Roads House, whether they provided back to school gear, winter outdoor clothing, food, or other necessities for her family. Linda is most grateful for her case manager’s assistance. “I’m not sure where I’d be if I didn’t come here. I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I did. This is the most stable we’ve been for a couple of years. Without Vicki, I probably wouldn’t be leaving this weekend.”

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We rely on contributions at all levels from people like you to help us provide shelter and supportive services to homeless families and individuals. The impact of your gift is felt year-round, as we work to provide hundreds of homeless individuals and families in the Seacoast area with the assistance and support they need to return to stable housing.
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How Lack of Affordable Housing Impacts our Communities of Color
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