By Shawn Chitnis

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Days before her housing voucher was set to expire after multiple extensions, a woman living out of her car was able to find an apartment. Up until now, the competitive housing market was unable to accommodate her needs.

“It’s overwhelming in a good way,” Tonya Williams told CBS4 on Monday. “I know I’m making progress, moving forward.”

(credit: CBS)

Williams says she had to get out of an abusive relationship so she started living out of her car in April. She quickly got a voucher from the Jefferson County Housing Authority but could not find an apartment for months.

“I was, literally until I signed the lease here, I was running in panic mode,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

The limited supply of available apartments along with the need for her to find a safe location on a budget made the search a challenge. A service dog Williams lives with to help manage her bipolar disorder was not always welcome at possible apartments. Social Security and Medicare covered a majority of her expenses while she looks for work but the voucher was needed to afford any housing options.

(credit: CBS)

“Just because someone is having troubles, doesn’t mean they’re not trying,” she said.

Williams spoke to CBS4 last Thursday worried that she would not find a landlord that would lease to her. She said more than 50 different apartment complexes did not come through since starting her search five months ago.

She often drove to the library to find a place to park her car while she used the free Wi-Fi to find new locations. Williams admits that her unique situation made it difficult but the market as a whole was unable to keep up with supply, hurting applicants like her.

CBS4’s Shawn Chitnis interviews Tonya Williams (credit: CBS)

She hopes people will learn from her experience. Not only the difficulty of being homeless and trying to make ends meet in this economy but also the opportunity for people to help others and realize their similarities. Williams is grateful that in her case, it has worked out and she has a place to call home for the next year.

“We all live together, we all live in the same society,” she said. “Whether you’re poor, homeless, rich, middle class, low income, we all need to live together.”

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.


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