Family A consisting of two working parents and two small children were with us for two years. They were referred to HIP because the father working at a local food store and the mother working as a cashier at a take-out food establishment combined income was not sufficient to cover the rent for their apartment in town and they became homeless. Upon moving into Prescott House a case manager, HIP board member and the client started identifying needs and collaborating on a plan to improve their circumstances. A dentist friend of HIP’s completed dental work pro bono. This gave an instant ‘boost’ to the individual’s self esteem. HIP paid for the mother to receive job training as a certified Phlebotomist resulting in part-time and then full-time employment at the Medical Center of Princeton and the availability of medical insurance. As their vehicle was dying, another friend of HIP’s (with two vehicles, but needed only one) generously donated a reliable vehicle to this family so they could get to day care, work, etc. This family is now living and paying rent in an apartment leased to HomeFront.
Family J was in residence for 12 months, consisted of a single mother with four children: one away at college, one at Princeton High School, one in Princeton middle school and one (with a chronic illness) in Princeton elementary school at the time. Though this mother had a good job, she was in debt and faced eviction from a local Landlord. Nevertheless, she was determined not to compromise the children’s educational opportunities and pursued all efforts to stay in town and keep them in the Princeton schools. One of our board members, a financial planner, worked with her intensively and was able to help her resolve her debt and clear up her credit. She dreamed of home ownership and was able to fulfill that dream by purchasing a modest one-half duplex in Princeton where she continues to live with her children. Her oldest son who graduated from Princeton High School while at Prescott House started his senior year at Princeton University in the fall of 2009.
From Homelessness to Hope: Heathers’ Story
Heather and her two teenage sons were homeless and searching for temporary shelter when she contacted Housing Initiatives of Princeton and spoke with Board Chair Ruth Scott. “I couldn’t see beyond the fact that I was homeless and I had these two children with me,” Heather remembers.
In December 2011, the family moved into a 2-bedroom HIP home in a mixed-income complex in Princeton. Because they were in transitional housing the two boys, ages 15 and 16 when they moved in, were able to continue to attend the West-Windsor Plainsboro High School North, ranked 16th in the state of New Jersey.
“It didn’t feel like a shelter; it felt like a home. That is what attracted me to it,” explains Heather.
When HIP accepts a family, it doesn’t just provide them with a home. HIP offers a holistic set of services that are designed to help families chart a path to financial stability and self-sufficiency. Ms. Buckles took full advantage of those supports. With support from HIP board members, she enrolled in classes at Mercer County Community College where she took classes that she hoped would prepare her for a future career in social work. She also secured a job at the Princeton office of The Institute for Wonderful Working Women for Empowerment. The Institute provides mentoring and leadership development services to promote the economic well-being of minority women. Working there enable Buckles to better understand the field of social work.
The counseling and budgeting support she received through HIP helped her better manage her family finances.
“You talk [with the counselor] and as you are talking, you hear the mistakes you were making,” she explains. “My finances were off but I learned how to do things the right way, how to be self-sufficient. I couldn’t have done it by myself. I needed the counselor to help me see that.”
In October of 2012, the family transitioned into an affordable apartment unit at the Mews at Princeton Junction. HIP helped them as they moved on, providing the security deposit for them on this new home.
“Anyone who comes into this program will be blessed,” says Heather. “Sometimes you need a place or an organization like this to help you on that path – especially if you are a single mother or going through a situation with your spouse. You need a refuge where somebody is there to take on some of that stuff with you so you don’t feel like you are alone. HIP did that for me. They helped me get back to where I needed to be.”