Two years ago the Dominguez* family — dad Miguel, mom Guadalupe, and daughter Sofia (6) — lived in Texas with members of their extended family. When Guadalupe became pregnant with their new daughter Valentina, Sofia was diagnosed with developmental delays.
At that time, Miguel began to look for opportunities that would provide for the special needs of his budding family. Fortunately, and despite the fact that the country was in a pandemic, his efforts paid off and Miguel was offered a job opportunity that promised to change his family’s future for the better. The catch? The job meant leaving his extended family in Texas to move to California.
After their move, the family began settling into their new lives and Miguel settled into his new workplace. But after only a month of working at the company, management announced layoffs due to economic stressors brought about by the pandemic. Miguel was informed that he would be without a job in two weeks.
With a strong work ethic and a desire to provide for his family, Miguel applied for jobs wherever he could find them but came up empty handed. With no one but themselves to lean on, the bills began to pile up and rent was well past due. Finally, their landlord evicted them. What was once a new beginning in California turned into an end to their stability and an end to a safe place to call home.
Miguel became more despondent, worried, and stressed than he’d ever been before. How could he provide for the unique needs of his family? How could he make his daughters feel safe? How could he care for his wife, who was the sole caretaker of their two young daughters? With so many stressors, it was overwhelmingly difficult to get out in front of the situation. Each day was a struggle to take care of the necessities — like putting food on the table. Anything beyond that — like getting Sofia any of the special care she needed — just wasn’t manageable.
Miguel and Guadalupe had the painful chore of telling their daughters that they had to leave their new home and that life was going to change. Miguel remembers feeling disappointed and distressed having to put his family through this confusing and painful time. “I blamed myself,” he shared.
One day, Miguel informed Sofia’s social worker about their living situation. She connected Miguel with Samaritan House to get them help. Once Samaritan House understood the family’s situation and need, they were referred to Home & Hope.
Because of the pandemic, finding housing and jobs was vastly more challenging than in the past. Getting access to the internet to find, tour, and apply for housing, identify open jobs and attend interviews, and obtain benefits seemed almost insurmountable. Even simple things, like following the structure of the program and moving week over week to new housing, required energy, attention, and focus — things that Miguel had in short supply and had to reserve for his new baby daughter and Sofia’s needs.
But in the midst of dark times, hope can be a powerful ally. Miguel shared that, through prayers, faith, and the support of Home & Hope, his family survived being homeless. After a year in the emergency shelter program, the Dominguez family found housing through Home & Hope’s longtime partnership with a permanent housing provider on the Peninsula. “I didn’t know anything about resources I could use or the best ways to find housing,” said Miguel. “But [my case manager] Arlene taught me so much, like how to save money and how to find and keep affordable housing. Now, I’ll have that knowledge anytime I need it.”
Within two weeks, their family moved into their new apartment and Miguel worked as a delivery person, bringing in some much needed income. According to Miguel, “Having a safe and stable place to call home while we figured out what to do was a huge relief and one of the biggest blessings from this last year. And after only a month in our new apartment, our lives feel normal again. I see smiles on my daughters’ faces and a chance at a better future for my family. Thank you, Home & Hope.”
*Names are changed to protect the privacy of our families.