Let’s meet Ms. Dana Smith, 51 years, resident of Union County. She is currently disabled and living in a Homefirst unit. At a young age, Ms. Dana recalls having to leave her mother’s home in Plainfield. This search for refuge brought her to a shelter in Elizabeth, where the teenage Dana was placed in a shelter. After a few months, local resources worked with her to move into temporary housing.
Four years later, Ms. Dana received devastating news. Her mother had fallen ill. She returned to Plainfield and dutifully cared for her until she passed. Grief-stricken, she required low-income housing options and approached Homefirst for assistance. Homefirst was able to find Ms. Dana housing in one of the units, but what we learned was that what was offered was much more. According to Ms. Dana, “I used to come to Homefirst to watch movies and talk about living situations.” She paints a picture of a community where others like her could talk about their shared experiences. “We used to go over there certain days to watch movies, and you come over for the cookouts and get to know everyone.”
From grocery store gift cards to a sense of community at gatherings to being placed in her current Homefirst unit, Homefirst remained steadfast in ensuring there was a place for Ms. Dana. To sum up her experience with Homefirst, Ms. Dana comments, “it’s a beautiful program.”