Parenting is never easy. Being a single parent is an even more difficult challenge. One day last fall, Jacob received unexpected news that he was being granted full custody of his teenage son. No planning, no time to prepare, no previous full-time parenting experience. Jacob was suddenly faced with the fact that he would play the crucial role of father to a young man whose life had already been an uphill climb.
Jacob had spent years of his adult life being on the wrong side of the law, abusing drugs and making unsound decisions. He knew that someday he’d have to clean up his act, but nothing before this phone call had struck him so deeply.
“I made the decision, then and there, that I needed to be a good father, a good role model. I needed to climb up and out of the hole I was in, and get right,” Jacob explained.
It was that day Jacob decided to clean up his life. Big changes were needed, including a new living situation. One of the first barriers Jacob encountered was finding a place. He had an apartment lined up and was ready to move in, but due to his less-than-flawless background, the opportunity for the new place fell through.
Jacob applied for and was accepted into Partners for Housing’s [P4H’s] residential shelter in Mankato. That’s where Bryan, P4H’s Housing Advocate and Jacob became acquainted. Bryan helped Jacob to identify the barriers he was facing and connected him to mental health providers who could address his Jacob’s past trauma and addiction issues. Bryan also referred him to partner agencies who could assist with clearing up his legal records, tackling his credit issues and finding a steady income.
Jacob went through a lengthy process to gain support. He gathered letters of recommendation, filed for new documents for his son and himself, consulted with a credit counselor, and committed to regular appointments with a mental health practitioner. Once he had completed these steps, Bryan helped appeal the housing decision, advocating for a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV). The HCV program is the federal government’s program for assisting low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford safe and sanitary housing in the private market.
“We got the golden ticket!” Jacob announced. “This will be a big boost for us…it really helps us move up in the world, knowing me and my son have a place to live, here in Mankato and close to his school.”
“This [P4H’s] program was the exact help we needed to climb out of the hole we were in. Don’t get me wrong, we still have work to do. At least now we have a steady place to live, and we can work on making our lives better every day.”