The Bennett Family’s Story – Clawing Tooth and Nail

Street Outreach team members Angel and Olivia were out on the streets when they came across the Bennett family in their packed car near the Lincoln motel. Olivia offered them some of the sack lunches that are so kindly provided for us by Throop Unitarian Universalist Church, and got talking. She discovered that the family of four were Pasadena natives, living in their car.

The family had been experiencing problems for some time – a combination of life circumstances and a lack of any support from extended family. They have tried many things to improve their situation, but the logistics of living out of their car has made it impossible for the dad to keep a job, and they have not been able to get benefits either in Pasadena or elsewhere. Olivia described the mom as “clawing her way, tooth and nail, to keep the family together.”

The children are aged six and seven, and are enrolled in a Pasadena elementary school. Olivia is now trying her hardest to get them into housing – she says this family keeps her awake at night. One of the problems she has is that resources for intact families are limited – many places are reserved for single parents. Nevertheless, they came very close to getting a place, but lost out to a family with disabilities.

Before Christmas, Olivia sent out referrals to every shelter in the area and, to tide them over, managed to get them a limited amount of motel accommodation on cold nights through our Bad Weather Shelter motel program. Fortunately, the family then got matched with transitional housing fairly quickly – but did not have enough money to get gas to drive there! Just as Olivia was trying to figure out a way of helping them, a good angel turned up at the FID admin office, with seven $25 Ralphs gift cards from St. Barnabas Church! The family was able to buy gas and move into their new housing in time for Christmas!

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