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Posted on: April 12, 2024

A St. Vincent de Paul Neighbor’s Journey
From Motel to Home

The experience of St. Vincent de Paul neighbor Cherie P. and the support of her St. Lawrence Vincentian caseworker Pam Kramer provide insight into how holistic eviction prevention services support housing and family stability. Cherie was willing to share her story to “do anything that will help someone else.”

The circumstances of Cherie having to make two hotel rooms home for herself, her disabled father (who relied on oxygen), her adult daughter, and her five grandchildren was traumatic. Amid the pandemic in 2021, she relocated with her family to Lawrenceville, Georgia. She was determined to find an environment safer than Philadelphia after the brutal murder of her husband. As a full-time CNA, she found a suitable rental home online and settled into her new city and home.

A few months of her new-found peace would erupt into a nightmare when she learned she had been deceived. The property she was renting was not owned by the person she was paying rent to. Within days of that realization, the sheriff’s arrival signaled an abrupt eviction from the premises. Needing to find immediate shelter, she and her family moved into the first of several hotels, trying with each move over several months to save money or find better living conditions.

During her housing challenges, she reached out to the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Lawrence for help. Her assigned caseworker, Pam, encouraged her to apply to St. Vincent de Paul’s Motel to Home program. Once accepted into the program, the year-long support included financial literacy training to improve her credit score and align her expenses with her budget making it possible to be approved for an apartment lease in Duluth. “She worked so hard,” described Heidi Eveleigh, Program Manager of Motel to Home, “I have never encountered a neighbor more determined to secure housing. I was so happy and proud for this family to finally have some stability in their lives.”

Funds were provided to assist with her first month’s rent. She received additional support from the Conference, including assisting with her move and donating furniture and household items needed to make her apartment a livable home. For Cherie and her family 2022 gave them reasons to be grateful.

In 2023, Cherie experienced another emergency threatening to disrupt her financial and housing security. A serious back injury made it impossible for her to work, and she was unsure when and if her Social Security disability claim would be paid. Her past-due rent payments resulted in an eviction notice on her front door, despair, and another call to Pam for help. Pam’s response was to reach out to the Court and ask for an extension of the scheduled summon date. The judge granted a ten-day extension. Relieved, Pam and Cherie prayed for Cherie’s income tax refund to arrive in time. The following day, their prayers were answered as a check arrived in the mailbox, allowing Cherie to avoid eviction.

Today, in 2024, Cherie has almost fully recovered from her injury and looks forward to returning to work. Her journey, like that of other neighbors served since St. Vincent de Paul launched Motel to Home in 2021, has meant that families are housed and not ‘hoteled’ or, even worse, homeless.


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