Preventing eviction is crucial to keeping people from becoming homeless, and at Bethesda Cares, our Housing Stabilization program does just that. In fact, a modest grant of just a few hundred dollars can buy the time a client needs to get back on her feet. For instance, “Lillian,” a middle-aged African-American woman, came to our Housing Stabilization Counselor, Barbara Geiger, in the spring of 2013.
Soft-spoken, with one adult child, Lillian had been unemployed for two years. Lillian was stuck: without a job, she could not pay for her utilities or her rent. “Lillian was unusual because she verbalized the deep existential despair, which my clients rarely do even when I suspect that it is there,” Geiger recalls. “Usually they are plain old stoic, which is very moving in its own way. I really marvel that most folks ‘hold it together’ as well as they do in some very challenging circumstances. The other reason Lillian captured my attention so is that [because of a new grant], I knew that I could help her again in the near future.”
Thanks to the Bethesda Cares grant, Lillian was able to stay in her home until her daughter finished nursing school, and started bringing in a dependable income. “Talking to Lillian had been haunting,” Geiger says. “She was so depressed. When she said things like, ‘what is the point of living?’ I was grateful to be able to offer her more than just a supportive shoulder.”