Unemployment and the subsequent loss of one’s apartment is the main reason Shared Housing in Dallas, TX has seen a spike in the number of women coming to their program, looking for more affordable housing.
“Many of our clients are mid-age 48+ with entry level skills so their options are tough,” says Executive Director of Shared Housing Center Maria Machado.
To help solve the issue on a more holistic level, SHC has partnered with an agency that provides employment counseling. They hosted a workshop in January to kick-off the program called “New Year—New You,” which included resume writing/updating and mock interviews. Each of the 32 participants received an interview outfit, shoes, a leather bound portfolio, and a bag of goodies.
Ms. Machado reports that the program has seen a high success rate: within a week of the class, four participants had found full time employment and since then, they hear from one to participants a week who have found a job.
“We hear from them because they’re excited to tell us the good news,” Ms. Machado said.
SHC also continues to offer clients the opportunity to exchange services for affordable housing.
“Deby” is one client who has benefitted from this exchange. She lost her long time job as a business manager/receptionist when the owners sold the business last summer. Deby looked for work and remained frugal with her expenses, but by November had exhausted her savings on rent. After spending many nights sleeping in her car and showering at truck stops in the outskirts of the city, Deby found the Shared Housing Center. They connected her with the Williams family, an older couple with an extra room in their home and a fear of driving beyond their comfort zone in the neighborhood.
The Williams agreed to share their home with Deby on the condition that she would drive them to the grocery store and doctor appointments. So far the match has been a success.
“We interviewed Deby on a Tuesday and welcomed her into our home on a Thursday,” says Mr. Williams. “She has been a blessing to us. She brings the outside news into our home. My wife treats her like one of our own children. I hear her now and then shouting “don’t forget your umbrella and lunch before heading out” or “you may want to take a jacket – the weather is going to change before you come home.” I know that if something happens to me, that my love of my life will have someone she can count on!”
Although both the unemployment rate and homelessness rates in Texas have declined since 2012, there are still at least 20,000 people without a place to stay on any given night, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.