Brittani had only lived in two places her entire life—the first for 14 years, the second for 9. But when her mother was moved into a nursing home, needing more care than Brittani could provide, the stable home Brittani had known for so long quickly disappeared.
Soon all of the money she and her mother used to live off of was redirected to cover the nursing home costs. Since graduating from high school, Brittani had tried several jobs, she even attended college for a few years, but her mother’s condition—diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia—required the most from her.
“I was taking care of my mom since the time I graduated until I was 23,” Brittani said. “In my mind, it was my responsibility to take care of her.” But after her mom was moved to a nursing home, Brittani could no longer afford the rent on her own.
She moved in with an acquaintance and then with her grandmother and then a coworker. She lived in trailers and two-room apartments. It was a destabilizing pattern–packing up her things, unpacking them, just to quickly pack them up again – and living off of someone else’s generosity has its limits, Brittani learned.
Since 2012, Brittani has moved 12 times, she thinks, maybe more.
Experiencing chronic home insecurity means it’s easy to lose track.
“It messes you up just a little,” Brittani said, “because your stability of being in one house gets shattered. It’s almost like you broke glass – moving multiple times is like throwing a pebble at a piece of glass and it just starts to shatter. It’s hard to wrap your brain around, and you’re wondering how to get those pieces back together so it feels stable again.”
Five of Brittani’s moves have happened in Charleston over the last year and three months, since she and her fiancé, John, moved to West Virginia to be closer to his family. Without a car, she’s used public transportation to help her make it to work, which has been hard to maintain.
The only thing that’s felt consistent since her arrival in Charleston, Brittani said, is Covenant House. For over a year, Covenant House has helped Brittani and John find a home. Since April, the pair has lived in one of Covenant House’s community housing sites in Kanawha City.
It’s one of two community housing sites Covenant House operates through the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) federal agency, which provides rental assistance to people who are medically qualified or who have disabling mental health issues and who may otherwise be living homeless.
“Houses like this make it easier for people like me and John that can’t get a place, a stable place,” Brittani said.
It’s been a transition, Brittany said. She’s come to expect the worst, no matter where she’s living and learning how to trust again is hard. But since moving in to Covenant House’s home, she’s making an effort to just focus on today and to feel grateful for what she has and to ignore the multitude of what-ifs.
“I try to stay as positive as possible,” Brittani said. “I have a house today.” And that means a lot.
This holiday season, Covenant House is working to raise money to put a new roof on one of their community houses and to ensure that both sites are well cared for and maintained. When you make a donation this holiday season, you’ll be helping folks like Brittani find the safety and stability they’ve long been searching for.