Melissa Full

Melissa with one of her grooming clients

I sat down last month with Melissa for a conversation about her housing journey. It’s an awkward topic, and the question is not an easy one to ask, but I ventured ahead anyway, “How did it happen that you became homeless?”

“Well,” she snickered, “it all boils down to some poor choices I made in a relationship.”

She went on to explain that she became infatuated with “Rob” whose “Prince Charming” personality swept her off her feet. Her life began to revolve around the relationship while other priorities took a back seat.

Over the course of a few months, both lost their jobs, so they were unable to pay rent. They stayed with friends or relatives for days or weeks at a time and would find another place to stay once notified they had to leave. (In the world of housing and homelessness, we call this “couch-hopping” and it is a form of homelessness, as this is not a stable or sustainable situation).

“Eventually, we got into Partners for Housing’s (P4H’s) shelter and Rob started working. During this time, Melissa realized she was pregnant. We were looking at affordable houses or apartments to rent once we left shelter. Rob kept telling me that he would get me a castle like I deserved.”

She went on to explain that she and Rob became victims of a scam…a would-be home fell through because they paid a person posing as the landlord/owner who had no legitimate right to rent the home.

“For a while, after the baby was born, we were living out of my car,” Melissa continued. “It was miserable and extremely difficult, all three of us in the car each night. We’d have to drive around to find different places to park.”

Melissa continued, “If we wanted home-cooked meals, we would buy groceries and offer to make a meal for friends. Our friends thought we were treating them, but we really just wanted to eat a hot meal and needed to use their kitchen.”

Melissa realized that she needed to begin advocating for herself, in more ways than one. She drove around Mankato, looking for the ideal place for the family to live. She called P4H staff, who assisted her with the application process for an apartment. Meanwhile, Rob was becoming increasingly manipulative and controlling.

The couple was in the habit of eating a hearty breakfast at a local church ministry. On one of the visits, Melissa gained the courage to ask a pastor for help in leaving the relationship.

I am so grateful to be able to live in ‘my castle, my palace’ with my son.






There were a few difficult weeks for Melissa, as she advocated for herself and her baby, and was able to make a break from Rob. She received daycare help from the county and, using a temp agency, she began a job search. The hiring staff asked if she would be interested in becoming a dog grooming assistant. She’d never thought about it before but decided to give it a whirl.

Three years later, Melissa is still joyfully employed in her grooming job. She loves her apartment, her independence, her job and her life. When she picks up her son from daycare, she catches herself saying, “We’re going home to OUR home,” and it brings her incredible joy and gratitude. She still regularly accesses P4H’s Case Management services as she continues to maintain stable housing.


I asked Melissa if she had a message she wanted to share with our readers. She stated, “I just want people to know that it’s difficult being on welfare. It’s really hard to be in a constant state of need for food and shelter.”


“The [P4H] shelter staff helped me get this place, and I am so happy here! There’s just something very special about saying, ‘my home’ or ‘our home’. I am so grateful to be able to live in ‘my castle, my palace’ with my son.”

Melissa serves as a Regional Expert representing P4H as part of the Heading Home Together collaborative, hosted by the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless and funded by the Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative. She advocates for the rights of people experiencing homelessness.

Kirsten Becker, Communications Manager