By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – Volunteer groups are coming together to find a home for a family of six that was evicted from their apartment for being three weeks late with rent. CBS4 first told you about the Martin family two weeks ago.
They were in a desperate place. Michelle Martin, her husband and their four kids — two with special needs — had lost their home and all but lost hope. Then they found Volunteers of America.
“She came in with one of her small kids,” said Lezlie Burwell, who heads up the new Rapid Re-housing program. Volunteers of America and Denver Road Home teamed up to launch the program that’s philosophy is housing first.
“There’s no preconditions. (We) Take folks as are. Maybe they don’t have work or maybe they have substance abuse concerns that they need to address, but once housed then they can address those issues,” said Burwell, who hopes to get the Martin family into a home before Christmas. “I’m feeling very confident that with advocacy and support, we can help her.”
While Martin’s husband works full time, they can’t afford a double deposit required after an eviction. Volunteers of America is covering it and helping to find a landlord who will take them in.
“They were so kind and caring, and they wanted to help,” said Martin. “Anything more than hotel room. We’re not asking for a lot.”
Martin says she has a new appreciation of home and the homeless.
“We didn’t think about it as we’re really hard working people that all it took was one paycheck to be back behind and you’re out of a home.”
The Rapid Re-housing program not only helps with temporary rental assistance and security deposits, but also emotional support. Mentors at Volunteers of America stay in regular contact with the individuals and families they find housing for to make sure they have a connection to the community.
“I don’t think anyone in human services is getting rich, but my work has meaning and that’s what matters,” says Burwell.