Crystal Irwin, Mutual Housing at the Highlands
As a mother, nothing pains me more than seeing homeless children and families in America. I never thought I’d find myself in that situation, but never say never.
This past June I was unable to pay rent. I was terrified of being evicted because I did not want it to go on my credit. I called all the agencies I was referred to, but most were out of funding. I could not get any rental assistance.
So, I packed up my son’s toys, our special mementos and pictures and put them in storage. I sent my child’s cat to a friend’s rescue/foster home, and we left everything else behind. I was sure we would find family shelter, but I was wrong. I had two choices for shelter. The one that had a waiting list had over 300 families waiting. The other shelter had us call in several times a day, and if we were lucky to call in as someone else was leaving, we’d get the bed. I gave up after trying for over three weeks.
The only positive aspect of telling my six-year-old we had to sleep in our car was the realization it very easily could have been outside somewhere. My little boy was terrified. I parked in back of motels with well lit areas. We stayed near gas station or restaurants open 24 hours in case we needed to make a bathroom trip.
The hardest part was escaping the heat during the day. While my son usually jumps at the chance to go to the park, you can only stand it so much in 100-degree weather. All of this stress caused my son to have a psychiatric breakdown, and he ended up at the hospital a total of three times for almost six weeks in an eight-week period.
A blessing came from that because from there we were referred to Turning Point. We have been given all the support/help we could get, and they moved us into a beautiful apartment at Mutual Housing at the Highlands, with brand new everything!
My son’s face lit up when he found out the building was just built and that we were the first people in it. The best part of it for him was the stairs leading up to our bedroom… Just a few months prior he told me he wanted our next home to have stairs inside (something I never thought would happen).
This year when we make our annual trip to downtown to hand out Easter eggs to the homeless, not only will it mean more to both of us, but my son will have a better understanding of why we give back.