When Mariana* learned that her landlord would be moving into her rental home, she feared that she, her husband, and two children would become homeless. “They were afraid of what was going to happen. They thought, ‘am I going to end up in shelter?’ They didn’t want to, but that’s the fear because they have to get out of their home,” said Chantelle, Housing Crisis Worker at Rotholme Family Shelter (Rotholme).
While their house was not without its faults including squirrels and pigeons finding their way inside, it was still their home—their place of comfort. “The landlord was moving in to do renovations,” explained Chantelle. “But the family loved the area the house was in, and they loved their neighbours. They were settled in their home”.
Concerned about finding a safe place for her family, Mariana called Rotholme for help. She was then connected with Chantelle as part of the Shelter Diversion program which assists families in finding housing so they can avoid coming into shelter. “She was so upset but I told her it’s going to work. We’re going to work hard [at finding a new home],” shared Chantelle. “I try to be an optimistic person who can walk with a family through a time of crisis. I can’t say I know exactly how they feel, but I can empathize with what they feel”.
Chantelle met with Mariana within 24 hours of her first phone call to Rotholme. They discussed her current living situation and her hopes for future accommodations. “Their rent was quite low at the time and they couldn’t believe how high rent is now… There are families who have never had a problem finding housing before and now they are struggling because there aren’t many affordable places on the market,” remarked Chantelle.
“We were searching for housing every day, it was just constant. There wasn’t much within her time frame so we just kept looking. Then it happened”. Chantelle and Mariana found what could be a new place to call home, so they went together to take a look at the space. “It was tough competition because she wasn’t the only one looking at the unit, but we had a great conversation with the landlord and she asked questions about the place. It was a good connection. Her landlord [at that time] also submitted a good reference letter”. To Mariana’s delight, her family was chosen to be the new tenants.
Chantelle accompanied the family to their new home on move-in day. “It relieves some anxiety if I’m there to help… I think for Mariana, knowing she wasn’t going through this alone was very helpful for her. Having someone who knows how to navigate the rental market goes a long way”. From this experience, Mariana has also developed new tools for communicating with landlords and searching for housing. “This family learned new skills to take forward, and if they need to be connected to other services once they are settled, I will help them do that. I want them to have success,” Chantelle declared.
Today, Mariana and her family are enjoying their new home and could not be more thankful for the support they received from Rotholme. Chantelle reflected, “there was hope out there from being connected to Shelter Diversion. She was just so grateful to have this service and find a new home”.
*Mariana’s name and photo have been disguised to protect her family’s privacy.
Written by Amy Bumbacco, Communications & PR Coordinator