A First Time Need: James’ Story

Young man and his daughter smiling

“I couldn’t even tell you where me and my daughter would be without this,” James expresses about the Shelter Diversion program offered as a part of the Prevention of Homelessness Among Families (PHAF) program at Rotholme Family Shelter.

Having never experienced a crisis in his living situation, James was living a nightmare when he faced the possibility of homelessness – and with his toddler in tow.

James’ life was crashing.

James and his daughter were staying in the house of his former partner and mother of his child. Since he and his partner were no longer together, he needed to move out quickly. He was having a lot of trouble finding a place on his own within his limited means.

“I would call to ask about renting places and they would be like, we have 16 other people first, so I would just move on to the next place. You basically have to have cash in hand to rent now,” James explains.

When he shared the trouble he was having with finding a place on his own and how the only other alternative to them finding a home is going into emergency shelter, James’ friend recommended calling Rotholme Family Shelter. By calling the shelter, an intake worker would listen to him and try to help him from there.

Intake connected James with Chantelle, the Shelter Diversion worker at Rotholme, and within the same day they met.

“I text my clients first to ask if I can call them, because there are many reasons people might not be able to take a call right away. So they either say ‘yes’ or they tell me when a good time to call would be, and I will call them back then,” Chantelle notes.

When Chantelle and James met in person, they talked and set goals. James described his situation and Chantelle explained the steps they would take together to try to get him housing so he could avoid going into shelter.

“I tell clients right off the bat that the rental market is tough right now. Everyone is fighting for the same few affordable spaces,” Chantelle says matter-of-factly.

Right away, Chantelle helped connect James with the financial resources he needed. Once he was able to have these income flows, James had that cash-in-hand to give first and last months’ rents as soon as the landlord asked for them.

Chantelle is able to help those experiencing a housing crisis adeptly and quickly. She has connections in the rental world and has extensive knowledge on how to negotiate leases, what to look for when renting a space, and knows the neighbourhoods and schools within London.

“It was extremely fast – I didn’t expect that kind of help, especially just from my first phone call,” James graciously notes.

While not always the case given the current housing crisis in London, Chantelle was able to help James find housing within a month from their first contact. Now he’s moved into his own home with his daughter.

James’ life made a soft landing on comfortable ground.

James now is able to focus on caring for his daughter full-time.

“I sympathize with my clients because I can understand that when you’ve never had to reach out for help before, when you feel like you should be able to take care of things yourself, it can be a challenge to lose that control,” Chantelle explains.

“It takes a level of trust to open up and have someone help you,” James echoes.

Chantelle continues, “To build trust we make a plan together. The clients tell me their goals and we make steps to achieve those goals. It’s comforting to have us walk alongside them.”

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel, Communications & PR Coordinator

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