Imagine losing your home during COVID-19. After a fire ravaged her apartment this past April, Grace, a single mother of two young children, found herself living in a hotel. The fire resulted in a total loss of her belongings, including her clothing and groceries.
“The fire in Grace’s apartment was a total loss because of water and smoke damage. Grace lost her family’s food and all of their clothing. Even her EBT cards burned, making it difficult for Grace to feed her family,” explained LifeSTEPS Director or Social Services Adam Ralli.
As the sole income provider for her family, Grace had faced many challenges over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. With reduced hours at her job and two children learning remotely at home, she didn’t think life could get any more difficult, until the fire.
“Before COVID, I loved my full-time job as a skills instructor for in-home care, and I loved my clients. Due to the pandemic, school closures and a lack of childcare, I had to stop working. My income was reduced while my expenses increased,” said Grace.
After the fire, Grace and her children relocated to a hotel room, where she lived until a new unit became available at her affordable housing community in mid-May. Without her home or EBT cards, Grace felt lost until learned about LifeSTEPS’ emergency assistance program from Adam. Adam met with Grace who explained the program in depth and immediately created a plan to get Grace and her family back on their feet.
“Grace turned to LifeSTEPS for help. At the hotel, Grace was struggling with meals and school work. She doesn’t have a car and was paying family and friends for gas to drive her to meetings and the grocery store,” said Adam.
With Adam’s intervention, Grace was able to secure critical transportation and grocery emergency assistance from LifeSTEPS. Adam helped her apply to the SERA 2 program, and she received emergency rental assistance for previous outstanding rental balances. She secured CalFresh, Cash Aid and EDD unemployment benefits. She also applied for renter’s insurance which allowed her to gain compensation for the total loss of her belongings after the fire. And with Adam’s guidance, Grace will continue her search for remote employment, as well as additional community resources to help her family find financial stability.
“Before the fire, Grace was unaware of LifeSTEPS and our resident services. She is so grateful that our resources were available onsite at her apartment community. She’s had a lot of her plate but with our help, she has taken huge steps toward achieving self-sufficiency for her family after a serious challenge,” said Adam.
Grace and her children recently moved into their new apartment, and the smiles have returned to their faces. “I’m so thankful for LifeSTEPS’ intervention and assistance,” said Grace. “When it’s safe to do so, I can’t wait to give back to the community by volunteering to help others in need.”