Last Friday night we met Shauna on one of our outreaches – we have over 100 outreaches a week; this one was in Tempe. She seemed normal enough, but the fact that it was 11:00 pm and she was huddled in a corner of a dark alley off of Mill Avenue was an obvious clue that her situation was different than most of the other college-aged kids we saw that night.
Shauna was 23-years-old and had been on her own since she was 18. She actually had a job. She was hardworking and intelligent. And, no, she wasn’t using drugs.
Our confusion must have been obvious: Why, then, was she sleeping in an alleyway off of Mill Avenue?
Shauna related that she had fallen behind in her rent payments. She worked a steady, minimum wage job, but she had experienced some unexpected bills in the last few weeks. As money started to dry up and her paycheck wasn’t for another week, she told the week-to-week rental place she stayed at that she would be late again. They told her she had to go.
We told her about the Phoenix Dream Center and offered her one of our temporary housing rooms for the weekend so she didn’t have to be out on the streets.
The next morning, she sat down with Jesse in our Resource Office. Our Resource Office is top notch at what it does. For over 10 years, the volunteers and staff that work there have specialized in the “down and outers” of society – the ones who need extra help making it through life. These gracious and patient individuals know how to search and call an endless bank of community resources for every possible need. On any given day, almost every computer is taken with individuals – some of them in one of our programs and some of them community members needing assistance.
It took a few hours. But Jesse was able to find a place that would take Shauna in until her next paycheck. That Saturday morning, it may have seemed like a simple scene – a young man and a young woman at a computer googling and making some phone calls. But to Shauna, it meant she didn’t have to sleep on the streets.