Stephanie, like so many others, faced unfathomable grief in the face of COVID-19. She lost her husband right at the start of the pandemic, just before the deadly virus became worldwide news. Now a single mother, Stephanie did OK for a while, working as a warehouse manager and supporting her daughter, Gracie.
Sadly, another tragedy soon struck when Stephanie injured her shoulder after falling off a ladder. In recovery and unable to work, Stephanie had difficulty paying her rent. She reached out to Jesse Tree, who helped her with her rent and allowed her and Gracie to stay in their home.
Jesse Tree is a nonprofit based in Boise, Idaho, that works to prevent eviction and homelessness in the Treasure Valley. According to Katie McInally, the Community Engagement Manager at Jesse Tree, “evictions are the leading cause of homelessness. So by stopping someone from becoming homeless in the first place, we can stop them from experiencing the trauma of homelessness and eviction.”
Stephanie soon faced difficulty getting her disability check and started to fall behind on bills and rent again. She was struggling physically, mentally, and emotionally from the compounded loss and couldn’t get the healthcare she needed. Jesse Tree’s community health worker connected her with an affordable counselor who was able to help.
Katie from Jesse Tree tells us about a time when her organization mobilized practically to support Stephanie in a time of emergency. After one email from Stephanie, where she indicated that she didn’t have clean clothes or food in the house, the Jesse Tree case managers responded with hands-on giving.
The case managers brought food items and a laundromat card over to her house and stayed with her until the counselor arrived. According to Katie, “A few weeks ago, probably a month ago now, she emailed our community health worker to say that she and Gracie were doing really well, and that they had found the serenity that they had lost.”
Stephanie isn’t the only single parent Jesse Tree has helped get back on their feet. According to Katie, “About half of the people that we help are single parents because society is not set up set up for single-income households.”
Jody, a single mother, got an eviction summons because she couldn’t pay her rent. Jesse Tree worked out a deal with the landlord to cover her rent and help her avoid an eviction on her record. Unfortunately, the deal didn’t go as planned.
Katie tells Jody’s story, “Everybody had checked all the boxes and, and sent the paperwork in and all that. And then, at the last minute, the landlord decided that they did not want to accept the payment from Jesse Tree and that they were going to go ahead and take her to an eviction court because they wanted to have her move out and rent the property for more than she could afford,”
“We hear story after story after story like that,” said Katie.
Jesse Tree worked to help Jody avoid the eviction, but the landlord still wanted her to evacuate the property within 30 days.
Unable to find affordable housing in Boise, Jody started over by moving to Michigan, where she was able to get a good job making the same amount she made in Idaho. Jody also found a house with a much lower rent. Because of the non-profit’s intervention, she didn’t have an eviction on her record, which would’ve made finding housing much more difficult.
Stephanie’s and Jody’s stories are similar to so many others — people doing their best to make it in these turbulent times. People who need a bit of help and hope.
Since 1999, Jesse Tree has helped families across the Treasure Valley area avoid eviction and homelessness. They seek to secure safe and stable housing for all those in need. Jesse Tree provides case management with rental or security deposit assistance to 100 households per month — changing hundreds of lives.
Jesse Tree is putting on a holiday fundraiser, Housed for The Holidays, to raise funds to help 50 Treasure Valley families stay in their homes and continue their community support into 2023 and beyond.