Michelle, a single mother of one (Mila, age 5 months old), entered Banyan House in September 2016. Before entering Banyan House, Michelle spent several weeks in her car while she was pregnant with her daughter. Michelle shared her frustration of locating a shelter that would take her in as a single individual with no current children. Even when they learned that she was due to give birth very soon, she still could not find an agency that would provide a space to her.
Michelle, a member of 24 hour Fitness, would shower at the gym, work two jobs, and then sleep a few hours in her car. She feared that she would not have a stable place to bring her newborn home.
FESCO’s Banyan House, as well as Les Marquis House, is one of a few shelter options for first-time pregnant moms. Michelle was grateful to get the call notifying her of space at Banyan House. Michelle took advantage of each referral given to her for housing, and in just under 90 days, moved into permanent housing with the assistance of our Linkages Program, that includes a rental subsidy and supportive services.
Michelle is very thankful for the support given to her by FESCO in supporting her to gain stability and increase her self-sufficient and providing a safe and stable home for her and her new-born daughter, Mila.
Frank, a single father of two (Fantastic – 7 years old and Famous – 5 years old) were referred to Banyan House via the Alameda County Social Services Agency Office. The family had been living with various friends and family members in the area whom they could no longer stay with. Frank had initially approached the County for homeless assistance, as they were weeks away from becoming literally homeless. Frank was already on the wait lists for the only two other shelters in the County which served single fathers, and was told it could be as long as a five month waiting period!
Sarah Vares, FESCO’s Housing Specialist, met with Frank, prior to his family’s entry into Banyan House, to assess his eligibility for the Linkages Program. Frank had steady employment income as a Peer Mentor, but just could not manage to save enough for needed move-in costs.
During Frank’s short stay at Banyan House, he took advantage of counseling services and was actively engaged in conversations during parent groups. He also managed to save enough money to move into permanent housing without the subsidy support of Linkages. Frank’s comment on his exit survey reads “Thank you for bringing hope and positive change for my family”.
Jessica is a 31 year old single mother with a six year old son. Three years ago she lost the job that she had for eight years and could no longer afford to pay her rent. She began to panic when her car broke down about the same time and she could not afford to pay to have it repaired. Jessica applied to temporary shelters but was denied any kind of housing until she was referred to FESCO. After being accepted at Banyan house, her living situation, along with her outlook for her future changed immediately. Through FESCO staff, she learned budget and savings strategies, got her son into childcare, began volunteering at a local grocery store, and began her job search. After four months, she was hired on full time at the grocery store and was able to start saving money to rebuild her life. Soon after, Jessica was able to move into a home of her own. She credits FESCO with helping her to move toward self sufficiency saying “the workshops, counseling, and classes…have given me the confidence to maintain a normal, happy life”.
Lanita came to the Les Marquis House with her three small children. While living at the Shelter, she took classes to become certified as a CNA and LVN and worked as a Medical Assistant in Pleasanton at night. She would push her two younger children in a stroller while her oldest son would skate board as they walked to the BART station to go to work.
She would take the children to child care while she was working at night and pick them up after her shift. They would return to the Shelter in the morning and get ready for school that day. Once the children were at school she would take a short rest, do all her chores, run errands, then pick up her children after school only to do it all over again.
She never complained or missed a day of work. She wore through 3 strollers during the time she was at the Shelter. Lanita became a favorite among the staff with her “can do” attitude. When other clients thought their obstacles could not be conquered, they would be told the story of “a lady named Lanita.” She is now employed with Kaiser and working toward her Nursing License.