Living in a Backyard

Being homeless can look different from family to family.  In Prince William County, Virginia, an episode of homelessness is often living on the street, sleeping in the woods behind local stores or for Emma and her teen daughter, Hailey,  [names were changed to protect their privacy] they were living in the backyard of a vacant home.  That all changed when they were referred to BARN. 

 At BARN, we were given our own room that was clean and safe,” she said. “We didn’t have to sleep with one eye open and scared.
— Emma, BARN Community Housing Resident

When Hailey and Emma arrived at BARN they didn't know what to expect.  They had been surviving alone outside and were nervous about trusting others after what they had been through.

Then Fadumo said we’re going to go to your room. She opened the door and it was so Beautiful. I thought it was going to be this [soiled] shelter and then she took me to our room and it was beautiful. It was clean and safe. There was space to dance. With a beautiful view out the window. It’s so peaceful. We didn’t have to share one bed like in a hotel or sleep in the grass. We had our own bathroom and it was stocked with everything we needed. They gave us quarters for laundry. They gave me a gift card so I could buy food for me and my daughter.

The family received clothing, food, toiletries, cleaning supplies (e.g., laundry detergent), new bedding and new towels.  Their room was cleaned in preparation for their arrival and views of the beautiful yard and forest were seen from their new windows.

Working with BARN’s case management team, Emma quickly found a job, enrolled Hailey in school, and received a donated car as well as financial assistance and counseling to help the family stabilize. “Now I have a budget and I’m working to clear up some old debts and saving money,” she said.


Recently Emma shared the news that Hailey was accepted to a local university after working with BARN’s volunteer tutors to prepare for the SAT exam. 

“I thought our life changed when we got to BARN but it continues to get better and better.”
— Emma, BARN Community Housing

Blog by Bond Cavazos & Denice Jobe