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Fri, Aug 26, 2022 at 4:10PM

'She didn't give up'

In the spring of 2021, “Britney” was living with her two kids in a shabby motel room, racking up debts and wrecking her credit because she couldn’t afford even those accommodations on her fast-food wages.

The homeless family came to stay at a Family Renew Community in DeLand that April. By winter, working a better-paying restaurant job she obtained with help and encouragement from her case manager, she was ready to go apartment hunting armed with money for deposits and application fees. Her debts were paid down and her credit score was back up to the point where she’d likely be approved for a lease. She’d obtained a voucher to subsidize her rent. But her search dragged on for months. There simply was no housing available that came with either an affordable rental price or a landlord who would accept the government aid.

“She didn’t give up. I’m just so proud of her,” said Linda Carson-Adkinson, who runs Family Renew’s DeLand Residential Campus for families with children experiencing homelessness. On July 1, 2022, Britney and her daughters, now 5 and 11, moved into a two-bedroom apartment in a complex with a pool and a playground. Britney is able to afford the rent without assistance.

Besides Britney’s persistence, the ability to boost her earnings and resolve her credit issues were the keys to the 36-year-old mom’s eventual success in attaining housing, Linda said.

“Her credit was really bad. In our program, we do a lot of credit repair,” Linda noted. “Once they are saving and seeing that they can pay off little things and dispute things, they will see their credit scores shoot up.”

Linda also connected Britney and her family with counseling services, specifically to address some serious behavior issues the younger daughter was experiencing.

Linda coached Britney though the obstacles she encountered during her housing search, including long waiting lists for subsidized rentals and exorbitant prices for fair-market rentals. As with all Family Renew residents, Britney paid no rent or utility bills during her stay and was required to save at least 50 percent of her pay. The savings she amassed made it possible for her to secure the apartment.

As she left her Family Renew apartment, Britney expressed gratitude to Linda and to Dorothy Cooper, the program assistant in DeLand. “I couldn’t ask for a better staff to be around,” she said.

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