Homeless in a shelter pregnant with twins

Pregnant with twins. Something had to change.

One year ago, Iysha’s life looked much different than it does today. She was staying with friends and working part time without much direction in her life.

“I was unorganized and not looking to move forward,” Iysha explains.

She spent much of her time with friends and unable to support herself independently. Last fall, Iysha discovered she was pregnant with twins and her whole life changed. She knew that she needed to find safe housing for herself and her babies but did not have the resources to do so.

Lifeline’s Homeless Crisis Response Program (HCRP’s Rapid Rehousing Program) provides emergency housing assistance to homeless individuals and families. Eligible customers must have a referral from Project Hope, Forbes House, or be working with an agency who works with those living on the street or in hotels.

Iysha initially moved into Hannah’s Home in Mentor and transitioned into Project Hope, Lake County’s emergency homeless shelter. She describes her stay at Project Hope as “a very difficult and humbling experience.” She was referred to Lifeline’s HCRP program to begin the intake process with Angela Wrana, Program Coordinator.

“Immediately, I knew Iysha was determined and strong. She wanted a better life for her and her family,” said Angela.

At age 24, Iysha was living in a shelter, pregnant with twins, and without steady income. Iysha had several barriers to finding a home; she had poor credit and work history, as well as lack of rental history.

Before she secured housing, Iysha went into early labor and delivered two baby boys. Although healthy, they remained at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital for several weeks. Upon her discharge, she and Angela worked diligently to find housing so that Iysha and her babies did not have to return to the shelter. She wanted a home for her new family.

Iysha describes this period in her life as “chaotic and depressing.” She felt as if she was running out of options. Just before her babies were to be discharged, Iysha was approved for housing at a partnering apartment community. Lifeline assisted her with the security deposit and five months of rental assistance.

“This is a great sense of relief,” shared Iysha. “It’s my first time having my own place.”

With her enrollment in the HCRP Rapid Rehousing Program, Iysha was able to focus her attention on her children and research educational opportunities. She had earned her State Tested Nursing Assistant license through Lifeline’s Employment Training Program in 2013 and started additional classes at Bryant and Stratton but was unable to afford tuition.

Iysha has decided that a career in nursing would be a good fit for her and is scheduled to take her entrance exam for the Willoughby-Eastlake School of Practical Nursing this fall and hopes to start classes in the spring. Her career aspirations include working as an LPN in a nursing home setting and she wants to own a home one day.

Iysha is interested in Lifeline’s Supportive Housing Program once her school plan is confirmed. This program provides rental assistance and long- term support while the participant attends an accredited school program and actively works on a goal plan. She would receive intensive case management from Angela and the support she needs to achieve her goal of self-sufficiency. Although Iysha initially wanted to enroll in Supportive Housing, Angela and she developed a plan to get her family stabilized first and then address her goal of returning to school.

Iysha is proud of her accomplishments this year and is amazed at the changes that have occurred. She is now a new mother to two healthy babies, planning her educational goals and taking action to improve her life.
“Since Iysha has moved into her new home she is much calmer and even more determined to work and finish her schooling,” said Angela.

Angela has seen the benefits of the HCRP Program while working with very vulnerable clients.

“I feel that everyone deserves the security and support of a home. This is an opportunity for a new life,” Angela concludes.

The Homeless Crisis Response Program is funded by a grant through the Ohio Development Services Agency, Office of Community Development. Lifeline serves as the grantee and program administrator for Lake County.