I am a manager at an apartment complex that provides Section 8 housing. There is a family that is going through a difficult time in one of our buildings. We have many people that could use your assistance, but I feel this family is the most deserving. I see people struggling in poverty every day. Some bring this upon themselves by the life choices they make, but others have had reasons out of their control that cause them to suffer. This family is definitely the latter. Both the husband and wife had jobs and were working hard to get themselves out of poverty. The husband then was injured and lost his job. Since it takes time to reduce the rent you owe in Section 8/subsidized housing, they were still charged maximum rent for the past two months, even though they could not pay it. It has now been reduced to the proper rate according to their income, but they still owe a large sum for the past two months. This has caused this family to be on the list of upcoming evictions. I have tried to discourage upper management from doing this to one of our good families, but they are proceeding because these are the guidelines we are regulated by for housing. The husband is actively looking for a new job again, but I know they will not be able to pay the back rent in time to prevent their eviction. This is a family that has always been willing to help others that were struggling in our apartment complex. I have seen the wife drop off food to sick and elderly tenants, and when the husband was well, I witnessed him many times carrying up packages for the elderly and handicapped or fixing people’s cars in the parking lot. I thank you for considering this deserving family for your charity program.
The letter I received from the apartment manager did not contain the family in need’s contact information or apartment number, so I began with calling the woman who wrote the letter. The apartment manager answered the phone and after I told her I was calling from The Time Is Now to Help, I could hear in her voice how happy she was to hear from us. The woman said: “Thank you for calling. I have been so worried about this family. They are such good people and do not deserve to be evicted. An eviction record and homelessness would affect them for a long time.”
I, too, have seen the effects of an eviction record and homelessness on the poverty-stricken. Often times it can be something that takes years to overcome.
The woman discussed with me the facts she was able to share. Since writing the letter, she had consulted the family and gotten their permission to share their personal information. They had not heard of our charity and were surprised to hear the caring apartment manager had contacted us in their behalf. The woman gave me the husband and wive’s phone numbers and apartment number. She also provided the overdue rent amount they owed.
The apartment manager told me they had never been late with their rent in the past and had always been responsible renters. She shared many instances where the husband and wife had been helpful to others. I also learned they had a 12-year-old daughter living with them, giving me even more incentive to prevent their eviction. We ended our call with a promise from me to do whatever I could to help the family get back on their feet.
My next call was to the husband’s phone number. Whom I assumed was the wife answered hesitantly, as if she was afraid of who may be on the other end. I encounter this often, due to the endless phone calls our fellow creations receive from bill collectors. They can be ruthless in their pursuit. I told her who I was and asked if she was the name provided by the apartment manager. She said she was, so I asked, “I thought this was your husband’s phone number?” She confirmed it was, but added: “I gave up my phone to try and lower our bills. I figured we could share a phone for now.”
I was glad to hear they were doing anything they could to try and lower their expenses.
I asked the woman if it was a good time to talk, and she said it was, as she did not have to leave for work for an hour yet. I hoped we could cover all we needed to discuss in that amount of time. Going through my list of questions and needed information can be time-consuming, but I like to be very thorough in my review.
I began by asking about her daughter, and as any caring mother does, she shared with me all of her daughter’s accomplishments. From what her mother shared, she was a good student and involved in several organizations at school and church. I asked about her husband and his illness that had caused him to lose his job. It turned out he had gone through a routine surgery that left him with an infection and a much longer recovery than planned for. He was let go from his job, as they needed him to be able to physically do his job. He was presently looking for a job and had several interviews in the near future.
I asked the wife where she worked and the income she received from her job. It was a low-paying job where she counted on tips for most her income. Due to the bad weather all winter, the business she worked at had been much slower, resulting in much less income. They had been paying the highest rate for Section 8 rent, and that amount did not immediately get reduced when her husband had his surgery and long recovery. They were finally approved after two rent cycles, but now they owed those two months’ back rent in addition to their utilities and other expenses.
I asked the woman if she could send me pictures of her overdue bills and eviction notice so I could confirm the amounts and account numbers. She sent these to me one by one, and I added these to our list of assistance after I thoroughly reviewed each bill. I asked questions about their utility usage, as I noticed a sharp decline from the previous year’s usage. The woman admitted they had been turning down their thermostat and leaving lights off during the harsh winter weather.
I then asked about their food insecurity. The woman told me how she had gone to the food pantry the previous month, as they had not had enough funds for any decent food. I asked how their food supply was now, and she admitted they had been eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. While these are delicious sandwiches, they are not a healthy full-time diet or even a food option for those with gluten and peanut allergies, which I encounter all the time. I made a note to have volunteers drop off grocery gift cards immediately, as the woman was capable of picking up healthy food for her family.
I heard the woman speaking to who I assumed was the husband in the background. She came back on the phone and asked if I would talk to him. I told her I would love to, and had been planning on asking to speak to him anyway. In a moment, I heard the husband get on the phone and introduce himself. He then asked, “Are you the man our apartment manager has been telling us about?” When I confirmed I was, he added: “I thought it was too good to be true, but my wife always believed you would contact us. I have never been someone to ask for help; in fact I am the one always helping other people. That is until I got sick. That was the most humbling experience I have ever undergone. I am ashamed to admit I questioned my faith and was angry at God for what we were going through. When I finally began to pray and let my anger go, I not only began to heal, but then our apartment manager told us she had written a letter asking if your charity would help us. I just wanted to let you know you are an answer to our prayers. Thank you. God bless you.”
The man began to sob on the phone, and his overwhelming gratitude to us brought me to tears as well. When he finally could speak again, I asked a few questions, and he filled me in on how he had struggled to heal from the surgery, but then the infection had been such a huge setback. The healing time was much longer than anticipated and caused him to lose his job. Now, after months of healing, he felt his strength was back, and he was anxious to get back to work. I was happy to hear he was nearly fully healed, and with his skills would soon be able to support his family once more.
As the wife had to leave for work soon, I asked the husband to put her back on the phone. When she came back on, I began to go over the list of assistance we would be providing, including paying their overdue rent, overdue utilities to prevent disconnection, and providing gift cards for food and gas. I kept hearing her say, “Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness.”
Then I heard the woman begin to cry. When I ended my list, she finally said: “I had no idea you would help us with all this. How can we ever thank you?” I answered: “By continuing to be the good people I have heard you are. It’s easy to pay it forward by helping others, just like you have been doing.”
The woman said, “Well, for us that is easy, because we like helping others, just like I feel you do.”
After ending our phone call, I went over my notes and made arrangements to pay not only their overdue rent, but one month into the future. This would allow them a buffer until the husband finally secured a job. We also decided to pay an additional amount on their utilities to give them the added security of that buffer. I called the husband the following day to fill him in our assistance, and he again broke down in tears. The man had been carrying the stress and guilt of their pending eviction and utility disconnection very heavily. Once the man stopped crying, I heard a sigh of relief that came from having the stress and pains of poverty removed, the pains of poverty that all of you helped to remove from this family and hundreds more each year.
Thank you and God bless you.
Health and happiness, love and God bless everyone, Sal