“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; know and the door will be opened to you.”Matthew 7:7
Joella has lived in many places—the streets of Chicago, her sister’s home, Denver Rescue Mission’s transitional housing location called The Crossing, and now—finally—an apartment of her own. Although it has been a long journey, Joella is grateful to God and to the Mission for opening the door to a place she can finally call home.
At the age of seven, Joella’s life completely changed when her mother and grandmother died within two days of each other. “When [my mom] died, my everything just changed,” Joella said. “Still to this day, I miss her like it was yesterday.”
After that, life was not the same. Joella’s brother and two sisters were 16,17 and 18 years old at the time, but her oldest sister took on the role to take care of the family.
She had just had a baby of her own but made sure she was there to care for her siblings too. “She didn’t throw me away or let me get put in the system,” Joella said. “It meant a lot.”
However, the struggles didn’t end there for Joella. She left home at the age of 15 and spent the next several years of her life consumed by drugs and going back and forth between sleeping on the streets and staying at her other sister’s house.
This cycle continued even after she moved to Denver, but it was here that she learned about Denver Rescue Mission. In 2017, after deciding to join the Mission’s STAR Transitional Program at The Crossing, Joella began to take the necessary steps to get back on her feet. While in the program, she learned many valuable skills, including how to create goals for the future, how to overcome her barriers from the past and how to get on a waiting list to secure a place of her own.
However, Joella was on a waiting list for about three years before she finally received the call that a place was available. Because there is such a need for housing, it can be hard to know how long one will have to wait once on a waiting list.
“Having this place, you know, God opened this door for me,” Joella said. She has been in her apartment now for about eight months and is excited to start planning for her future. She has graduated from college and hopes to become a counselor for recovering addicts.
When she went into her apartment for the first time it felt like a breath of fresh air. She walked in to find new carpet, fresh paint and a kitchen that she now loves to cook in. But most of all, Joella found something she had never felt before. “I feel at peace,” she said. “The first couple of weeks after I got here, it was kind of unnerving because I wasn’t used to it being this quiet, but now, it’s so beautiful.”
“God has opened so, so, so, so many, so many, so many doors for me. I’m just so grateful to Him because, without Him, there’s no telling where I would be.”
Reality of Rent in Denver
Fair Market Rent
Affordable Rent at Minimum Wage
Work Hours Needed Per Week at Minimum Wage to Pay Rent at Fair Market value
Three Ways We Help
Affording and securing housing is a challenge for many low-income individuals and families in Denver. Case Manager Supervisor for the STAR program, Julie Archuletta, emphasizes some key ways we support people like Joella in finding a place of their own:
Addressing Barriers—Barriers can include their credit, having an eviction, struggling with budgeting, or just not making enough money in their current job to afford rent. We work with them on paying off credit, making sure they can make payments towards their eviction and helping with their resumes to apply for higher paying jobs.
Creating Goals—This is where we talk about what type of housing they want—an apartment, a studio or a house—how many bedrooms they want, how much they can afford to pay, and any other needs they have. We will also create budgets with them to help them save money.
Getting on Waiting Lists—We usually start right away to get them on waiting lists by looking around to see what places have waiting lists of less than a year. Because it’s so expensive and there’s such a need for housing here, a lot of places aren’t even accepting applications, so when we do see one open up, we immediately contact all of our participants to apply for it.
You may remember Joella from our September 2017 newsletter: I’m Going To Make It Now. To read more about Joella’s story and how the Mission supported her in a time of need, visit DenverRescueMission.org/GoingToMakeIt.