Hidden homeless. That’s what they called us. Had I ever heard that term before? No. Did I ever want to be called it again? Definitely not.   I did everything I could. The bills were piling up. It became time to choose between car payments that got myself to work and my kids to school or mortgage payments. I had to pick the car.   I thought I’d be able to fix it. I thought I’d be able to get back on track, I just need to save. But things kept coming up like my daughter desperately needed new glasses and I had to take my son into the dentist. On top of that the car needed work. None of these we’re options. They all needed to be done. The pile just kept getting higher. Left to manage it all on my own after my husband left.  

At first my family did take my children and myself in. We were staying in their living room. It’s such an uneasy feeling to wake up in someone else’s home with your family. To know that you don’t belong there. To know that you are intruding on someone else’s space. It’s a terrible feeling to feel guilty for using someone else’s food to pack my children’s lunches. You start wondering how you can save their pennies because you feel so bad. Especially when it’s you and your children. My son (8) and daughter (6) were so well behaved for the

 most part. Yes, they had some temper tantrums that I tried to navigate away from my family but they did the best they could during such an uneasy time. I knew that they knew I was stressed.   Eventually it became too much for my parents to have us there. Especially with my mom’s health issues. So on to the next place. We jumped around between a few friend’s places. They were kind enough to let us stay a few nights but we became too much every time. I hated asking and I know that they didn’t love us in their space. Why would they? As much as they wanted to help it was starting to become too much for everyone. So I had to start looking into real options. I had to recognize we were homeless and we truly needed help.  That’s where the YW transitional housing program in West Niagara came into play. I luckily got in touch with their West Niagara worker and we began trying to figure out options for me and my family. It wasn’t the easiest. We had to go into the YW emergency shelter for a bit, including spending Christmas in shelter. I’m grateful that they worked out a solution so my kids could stay in their school in West Niagara knowing that the goal was to get us back

 into our community as quickly as possible. We did the best we could with what we had. As soon as my YW worker told me they had a possible place for me and asked me come visit, I said I don’t care what it looks like as long as we have a home to go to. I was so sick of being in shelter and being an unstable housing. I felt like a menace on other people. I was sold on the place without even seeing it. A part of me thought it would be a real dump. I just figured, you can’t get a nice place if you’re homeless. But when I did see the unit it was big enough for myself and my two kids. And it was our own. That’s all I cared about. 

It sounds so simple. Find a place to live and your worries will end. While it sure felt good to not be a burden to my loved ones anymore, my support worker and I still had to have some hard conversations and work on making big changes. She helped me set goals and counselled me on budgeting to ensure I could sustain a home for my children and I. I’m learning life skills I never had the chance to learn before. it’s just the beginning of this journey so I’m nervous, but also feeling hopeful for the future. Something I haven’t felt in so long that it feels foreign to me. I’m feeling so grateful to have a support system back in my community, with my YW worker, my family, and my friends. I’m really lucky. Thank you for helping make sure this program was a possibility for me and my children. I can’t wait to tell you my updates as they happen. But for now, happy walking!

– Ledell