When picturing Austin, our favorite things come to mind: Lady Bird Lake, festivals, and enough tacos to feed the country. What we sometimes forget to see, or simply choose not to, are our neighbors that are struggling the most.
Poverty and homelessness are often invisible community problems. We have limited perceptions about who is experiencing homelessness and the reasons for their reality. While an older man with a cardboard sign might be the homelessness you see most often, it is working families struggling to make ends meet that are the true face of poverty and homelessness in Austin.
Lashanya is a hard-working, single mother who had never experienced much instability until last year. She was pregnant with her son, Aiden, last summer when she was placed on bed rest due to high blood pressure, leaving her unable to work for the remaining two months of her pregnancy. Suddenly a secure and stable life was shattered by unforeseen circumstances.
Lashanya lost her job and spent the next several months bouncing from place to place with her children, often sleeping in her car. She continued to have health issues after giving birth and struggled to find work and provide for her children.
“The hardest part was not knowing where we were going to sleep each night,” she said.
Lashanya finally connected to Caritas’ housing programs that support families and individuals moving out of homelessness toward self-sufficiency. Within weeks, they had identified a home that fit within the family’s budget and moved in. Caritas was able to provide the family with temporary financial assistance and household furniture as well as groceries from the Caritas Pantry. Lashanya finally had the stability she needed to seek employment, and she recently found a job and that’s put her on the path to self-sufficiency.
She can’t express enough gratitude for the support she received during her time of greatest need. “This program helps you become the person you were before, and that’s priceless,” Lashanya said.
Caritas of Austin relies on the support of community partners like the Long Center to be able to provide families and individuals with housing, food, education, and employment services. Weekly groceries were critical for Lashanya’s family when she had no income to put food on the table, and most of Caritas’ Pantry items are supplied by donations.
That’s why the Long Center is once again joining Caritas’ Food Drive Challenge! You can view a list of their most needed food and hygiene items HERE. Donations can be dropped off at the Long Center through December 27th.
We could not do this without your help- thank you for helping us play a small, but important part in ending hunger and homelessness in Austin!