Like many parents, Chanell spends a lot of time in the car, with drop-offs and pick-ups going between school and daycare, work and home. Chanell’s experience differs, however, in that she and her older daughter Jade once used their car for shelter while experiencing homelessness.
Jade’s father died in 2016, leaving Chanell struggling with grief and lack of stability in addition to being a mom. She stayed with friends, family and sometimes in the car, telling Jade they were “camping.”
Chanell and Jade found a few months of stability staying with her grandmother, but then were not allowed to stay due to the type of housing. That was when Chanell was referred to YWCA St. Paul’s Rapid Re-Housing program, which provides short-term supportive services so families can move out of shelters and into housing, as well as resources to learn about maintenance and budgeting so that they can create a foundation of true stability.
As Chanell and her case manager were searching for housing, Chanell, who was then expecting her second child, worked tirelessly to find an apartment that fit her budget as a single mother.
“I think people see homeless and they think, ‘oh they didn’t try,’” Chanell says. “Sometimes things just happen. People literally take having a home for granted. It’s everything, just for my kid to go to her own room and have her own bed. I really don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have this program.”
Since moving into her two-bedroom apartment with Jade, Chanell has given birth to her baby, Royal, and finally had the security and capacity to accomplish a longstanding goal: getting her GED. She’s now setting her sights on new goals to achieve, and will start online classes at St. Paul College in the summer.
“I’m just very proud of her,” Grace Nelson, Chanell’s case manager, says. “She has worked very hard and she’s just a phenomenal woman and deserves to know that.”