Lila Anna Sauls, president/CEO of Homeless No More, said Friday’s ceremony was “three years in the making.” The four families who moved into new, affordable homes at Live Oak Place heartily agreed it was worth the wait.
Homeless No More presented the families with wreaths in celebration of their new homes. Each family had spent more than a year living in housing provided by St. Lawrence Place, but as Sauls explained, the new homes are their own.
“The families are families,” she said. “They are not homeless. They are not participants of a program. They have their own homes.” The new homes are owned by Homeless No More and rented to the families at affordable rates, thanks in part to a $20,000 donation from Wells Fargo.
“These are special places,” said J. Holt Chetwood, Midlands market president for Wells Fargo.
Consuela Yisrael and her family spent two years at St. Lawrence Place before moving to one of the new homes. “It feels great to have affordability, to not stress about what we’re going to do,” she said. “I’m not so afraid.”
The families will still have access to St. Lawrence Place resources as needed, and the new homes are close by, meaning the four single, working mothers and their children will not have to move far, and are in a place they know to be safe. New home resident Santana Johnson said the familiar area is good not only for them, but for those still working to find their own homes.
“Keeping the same friends and some of the same neighbors that are in transition, you kind of give them hope that it does pay off,” she said.
“It helps working moms who just kind of had a little setback.”
“It’s awesome.” Yisrael said. “It feels like we’ve gained our freedom.”
Sauls, who leads Homeless No More in its mission to end family homelessness in the Midlands, said the dedication of the homes is only the beginning of the new organizations work. “Please help spread the word that there’s a need for clean, safe affordable housing in our community,” she said. “We’re not going away. There’s lots more to come.”
More information on Homeless No More is available here.
Pictured: Lila Anna Sauls of Homeless No More (left) with the ladies whose families have new homes (photo by Allen Wallace)