In the summer of 2016, Irina was staying at a domestic violence shelter with her three young children, all under three years of age.
At the shelter, she and her family could only stay for 90 days before being put out onto the street. “This was a difficult time for me,” Irina recalls, “I had three young children, and I didn’t know how we were going to make it.” While there, Irina learned about Solid Ground and the services they offer for families experiencing homelessness. She immediately became more optimistic than she had been in a long time. “Solid Ground started to give me hope that I would land on my feet once again.”
Irina began working with a Solid Ground housing advocate to complete all the paperwork so she and her children could move into housing before the 90-day shelter deadline. “It was really scary,” Irina says, “not knowing if we would find a home in time.” With just 2 weeks to spare, she found out that they would be able to move into HomeFront, Solid Ground’s program specifically for veterans and their families, located inside a brand-new affordable housing complex in Maplewood.
In the fall of 2016, Irina and her children moved into their HomeFront apartment. Irina beams at the memory, “I was so grateful to have a home where I could care for my children and keep them safe.” One of the first things she did was enroll her children in preschool. “Education has always been important to me. I want my children to have their own goals and dreams, and I know, through education, they will succeed.” With Solid Ground’s help, Irina was able to go back to school too. Solid Ground provided living essentials, help with expenses, and participation opportunities for her children.
With housing stability came opportunity. Irina worked tirelessly for several years and graduated in the fall of 2021 with her nursing degree. Within a month of taking her nursing exam, she had a job offer that she accepted as a registered nurse. During her first week of on-the-job-training, Solid Ground provided her childcare and purchased her first set of nursing scrubs. Irina says with deep gratitude, “Solid Ground allowed me to establish an income that would support my family going forward.”
With added income came challenges. Now, as a registered nurse, Irina no longer met the criteria for low-income housing and would need to leave her subsidized apartment. “It was stressful to think about once again losing our home and what that could mean for my children.” Irina exclaims, “Everything I do is for them. They motivate me.” And motivate her, they did. Immediately she started looking at buying a home. “I wanted security for myself and my family. Buying my own home was now a possibility and I wanted to give my children more security and room to grow.”
At the end of August, she toured a house and, later, brought the children to see it. “They loved it as soon as they saw it. They each had their own rooms and space to grow. I knew it was home.” Irina put an offer down and it was accepted the following day. In September, they moved into their new home.