The Keystone program houses 15 of the most chronically homeless families, with kids, in Lane County. After years of homelessness, Krystal is part of one of these families. “I have loved being here at The Keystone,” Krystal says, “three years in a van was a long time to have such a little space and then a lot of space. It’s been a bumpy road, but I’m adjusting slowly.”
Krystal has two kids, “I have a 15 year old and an 11 year old. My son, who’s the 15-year-old, will eventually transition into living here with us. He lives with his best friend now,” she explains, “my daughter is still with her father, but hopefully moving forward, that will change. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone them.”
Krystal is determined to become the best version of herself for her kids, “I’m trying to make it up now and prove to them, ‘I’ve got this, it’s okay.’”
Krystal has a long history with homelessness, “I have been homeless more often than I have not, my entire life,” she explains. Her most recent 3-year stint of homelessness began when she left her ex, “I came out of an 18 year abusive relationship with no credit, no rental history, no anything and without any of those things, no one’s giving you a chance. Thousands of dollars spent on application fees to just be told no. I worked a full-time job, most of that time, and still couldn’t afford to just survive. Rent is outrageously expensive here. It was every roadblock put in place just to have more.”
Krystal’s story is one of overcoming not only abuse and homelessness, but also managing mental illness, “I’m bipolar and had a complete mental breakdown and was reaching out for any kind of help. I happened to find somebody who said, “have you done a front door assessment?’” A front door assessment gathers information about a person including the barriers they face and characteristics that make them more vulnerable while homeless, to add them to the county managed Centralized Waitlist for getting into housing. Krystal said the process went quickly for her, “They did it that day. Next thing I know, I was getting a call from Lauryn.”
Lauryn is a Housing Specialist at ShelterCare’s Housing Services for Families program and spends most of her time at The Keystone. She explains that her favorite part of this job is seeing her client’s progress, “They come into this program, like Krystal, right off the streets. Watching them grow and be able to have a home and achieve things they never thought they could do is amazing.”
Lauryn is a big part of the network of support that ShelterCare program participants are provided with, “We always set up goals with them, when they move in, and we update them monthly,” she explains.
Now that Krystal is in stable housing with a network of support, she talks about what her personal goals look like moving forward, “Prioritizing my time for the things I need to is my biggest goal right now. Focussing on my health and continuing to put one foot in front of the other.” Krystal says that the staff at ShelterCare are a big part of her success, “They have kept me on track more than once. Without them, I would not be here and I would not be as okay as I am.”
Krystal now has more time and space for her favorite hobby, “me and my fiancé rock hunt and hand process everything, make jewelry out of it, then give it away. It’s a family activity.” Krystal jokes, “Our house is probably more rock than anything!”
Despite her struggles, Krystal wants to make the world a better place for others, “Three years being homeless has humbled me in a way I didn’t realize could happen. I found the love of my life and got to realize there’s something bigger out there that I want to do – I want to help people. I want to make sure other people know that they aren’t alone.” She even plans to host a community dinner for the holidays in her new home, “I’m doing an open door Christmas!” she exclaimed excitedly, “if you don’t have somewhere to go, my door will be open.”
You can make a difference in lives like Krystal’s. Support from a Housing Specialist like Lauryn and a stable place to live has changed both her and her children’s lives forever. Your donation will help us house more families and individuals before the next holiday season and continue moving our program participants forward in personal growth. Will you make a donation today to support ShelterCare’s work of providing housing and support services to chronically homeless families?