“I don’t think I could have made it out of the shelter without Second Story’s help,” “Melody” reflected.
She looks at her two kids and thinks about how different her life was a year and a half ago, and how different it could have looked now.
Melody had a young child and was living with her boyfriend. She knew he didn’t treat her well, and she didn’t like it. But she was scared to be on her own with her daughter. Then things got worse. He started hitting her more often. She started getting bruises and people started noticing. Then she found out she was pregnant again.
For what felt like the hundredth time, Melody weighed her options. Should she stay? She had realized the abuse wasn’t going to end, but she wanted her daughter to have a father. He had never hurt her daughter, only her. Should she leave? Where would she go? Once she had another baby it would make it harder to be on her own. Being alone with two children was far different than being alone with one. But the thought of enduring his abuse for months, years, made her want to break down in sobs. And was that really the life she wanted for her children? If she was ever going to leave, this felt like her last real chance.
So, Melody made a decision that she had long considered but never thought she’d actually make – brave and terrifying, risky and hopeful all at the same time — she fled to a domestic violence shelter. She didn’t have a job, she didn’t have anywhere else to go or anyone else to call.
She stayed at the homeless shelter for a few weeks, and was eventually referred to Second Story’s Rapid Rehousing program – a program based on the “Housing First” model, which prioritizes housing to young people like Melody without expecting them to meet other standards first.
Once Melody had an apartment, she completed a certificate program and began working part time. As soon as she had her medical certificate she was able to get a full-time job in the medical field, maintain a budget, responsibly manage her finances, and make her rent payments completely on her own. She even bought her own car!
Every time she sees her case manager, Melody gushes with gratitude for Second Story. She’s in a position she never could have imagined two years ago: a parent to two healthy girls, using her skills to provide for her family, and thriving as she pursues her dreams.
Melody is eager to graduate from the program and proud of her journey to self-sufficiency.
In May of 2018, a study from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago reported that over 1 million children in the U.S. had a parent who experienced homelessness in that year. In fiscal year 2019, Second Story provided housing, counseling, and support to 32 young families and their 47 children. Our programs are breaking cycles of homelessness, abuse, and poverty – touching not only young adults, but also the next generation, and creating an impact that lasts for generations.