Homelessness often happens unexpectedly and without fault. Significant life events, such as sudden unemployment, family disputes, or losing loved ones, can lead to someone not being able to pay their bills and being forced out on the streets.
Amy, a former GRACE Marketplace resident, found herself in need of shelter as a result of a tragedy that was out of her control.
“I was in a relationship with someone, and his mother died,” Amy said. “We couldn't afford the mortgage so we left and came to GRACE Marketplace.”
During her time in Gainesville, Amy found herself in a new relationship with another GRACE resident named Phillip. Despite working three jobs between them, the couple couldn’t afford to pay for all the deposits to move into a place of their own.
“It was just hard because we had to live day by day,” Amy said. “So it was hard to save up all the money it costs to get a place. GRACE paid all the money it cost to get us into our apartment. It’s been incredible.”
A GRACE staff member found an apartment for the couple, and then the organization paid for the deposits, rent checks, and utilities the couple needed to move in. Now settled into their new apartment with more hopeful futures, Amy and Phillip join the more than 100 people GRACE has helped move into housing. GRACE Marketplace believes in the strategy of Rapid Rehousing, which means getting people into housing within a month so they can start rebuilding their lives.
Essentially, the logic behind Rapid Rehousing is that everyone is ready for housing now. Solving homelessness first by getting someone an apartment improves their chances of success in resolving some of the issues that led to them to become homeless in the first place. Once their basic needs are met, they are more successful at finding jobs, learning money management skills, and defeating addiction.
Research shows that of the families who enter Rapid Rehousing, 77 percent of families did not return to homeless shelters. Sometimes, all people need is that head start — that saving grace — to get their lives back on track, and the success of Rapid Rehousing programs is evidence of that. Amy and Phillip have been given that head start with a new place to call home.
“GRACE Marketplace is a stepping stone,” Amy said. “There are a lot of wonderful resources to help people if they use them.”
Amy admits that without the help of GRACE, she and Phillip would have remained homeless for a much longer period of time. Now, they have a renewed lease on life and a much-improved chance of not returning to a shelter.
“I think GRACE is a wonderful place,” Amy said. “They offer everything people need to get back up on their feet.”
The goal of GRACE Marketplace is to end homelessness in Gainesville, and the team there is living up to this promise by helping one person at a time. But they can’t do it alone. Donations and volunteer hours are needed from the community to ensure the future success of all of GRACE’s efforts that have served more than 5,500 people in need.