From Darkness to Light

One of the grim realities of homelessness is that it can happen to anyone. A family illness, economic fluctuations, a lost job – all could lead to a loss of stability and result in homelessness.

For Inez Jett, the Covid-19 pandemic shook the foundation of her life and led to her experiencing homelessness.

Before the pandemic hit, causing the world to spiral into economic uncertainty, Inez felt secure in her position as a customer service representative at a technology company. But like thousands of others, Inez was sent an email that no employee wanted to receive. She was a part of the industry-wide pandemic layoffs of 2020.

Unable to pay the increasingly high prices of rent and afford food for herself and her newborn baby, Inez had no other choice but to live in her car.

She tries not to think about that dark time in her life.

“I couldn’t sleep because I didn’t feel safe,” she said. “I was always worried. I stayed up to watch my baby sleep and then I had to plan out each day. When could I wash our clothes? Where could I get food that was good for us but wouldn’t spoil since I had no place to store it? Where could I update my resume and apply for jobs?”

Inez did everything she could to rebuild well-being in her and her son’s life, but it was impossible without the foundation of a home.

“I didn’t have a home address to list on my job applications. I didn’t have access to childcare for someone to watch my baby while I worked,” she said. “It was this vicious cycle I wanted to get out of but couldn’t figure out how.”

At this time, Inez had two sons and a third baby on the way. She recalls feeling hopeless and desperate for something to change.

“My children are my pride and all my joy,” Inez said. “But not having a home is no life for children. At night, I would wonder when things would change or when I should let them go so they could have a better life. It was agonizing to think about.”

Inez’s yearning for a better life for her kids pushed her to research her options, which led her to learn about the Coordinated Assessment from her sister, quickly filled it out, and Caritas of Austin connected with her.

Less than a month later, she signed a lease and received the keys to her own apartment.

“From that point on, everything that was dark, became light,” she said. “I had lost hope, but having a home gave me hope. I have a space for my children and the resources to get back on my feet. I have a great work history and work ethic, I just didn’t have a home to go back to. Now I do.”

At Caritas of Austin, we know that it takes layers of support to truly rebuild well-being. Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we are able to provide these layers of support for all Austinites to thrive, like furniture for Inez and her family.

“I remember as it was coming in, that my mouth was just open,” she said. “I felt overwhelmed
with blessings. I cried as I put my children’s furniture together.”

Now that Inez has the foundation of a safe place to call home, she’s focused on healing from the recent birth of her third baby boy and then returning to work at her new job as a customer service representative. But, she says, she has big dreams for her family over the next five years.

“I’m looking at starting school next semester, part-time while I work,” she said. “I want to be a medical assistant and then someday a registered nurse. Four or five years from now, I want to be a homeowner, to have a forever home for me and my kids.”

Because of your generosity, we are ending homelessness for families like Inez and providing them with all the resources they need to truly thrive.