By Jim Wehner
A resident in our transitional housing program was late on her rent. Since the program provides assistance to families and individuals that need help with housing, this predicament is nothing new. Part of assisting people in their housing needs includes mentoring in financial choices and prioritizing payments.
This particular tenant had been through all our channels of assistance and, as happens sometimes, it was time to begin the eviction process. This ending is never easy for us. Even though we invest a great deal of time, resources, and energy before we reach this place, it still feels like we have failed somehow.
But this time something happened. A fire in her apartment.
This same resident - whose worldly possessions fit into a one room efficiency apartment with two of her children - now lost almost everything. She moved in with her mother, who was in another apartment in the same building.
FCS worked feverishly to repair the damage from the fire, which ended up costing a great deal. This was no small event. It challenged the strength of our entire team as we dealt with the crisis.
And for the resident, it was not the first time for her to start over. The very fact that her mother was in the same transitional program reveals the generational dynamics at work in their family.
We resumed conversations about her rent, now unpaid for three months, when the unthinkable happened. Her mother went into diabetic shock, then a coma, before passing away 24 hours later.
The apartment could be repaired. Most of her possessions could be replaced. But now she had lost her one source of strength in her life. It was devastating.
And though I felt guilty for even thinking about it, I realized we never answered of our original question: Should we evict her? Of course, we had reasons to say yes. Our protocol requires all our residents to be involved in their own process. The months without paying rent, as well as by-passing other opportunities, would typically lead to ending our support.
But our goal is to support families and individuals that need help with housing. In this case, we chose not to evict. There was just too much happening in her life to add homelessness to the pile.
And we are reminded that God is our provider. God is bigger than the tragedies and intensities that enter our lives at the worst moments. And honestly, in our work, the level of need almost always outstrips our personal and corporate resources.
Over time, God provided a place for our resident to live with a family member, and she moved out of our apartments. For us, we grow in our experiences of waiting on God to provide beyond our abilities. And we watch expectantly for him to do so. This consistent posture has developed in us low-frequency trust in God to fill these gaps between resource and need. And God always shows up.