"Why do all of my friends have homes and not me?:" Kamini's Story

Kamini with the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino at our Home for the Holidays event in 2013.

Kamini was successfully balancing work and motherhood: holding a steady job while raising her 5 year-old daughter. But she faced a challenge common to many working families: despite working full time, she could not afford the rent for her modest apartment. Kamini explored every option she could think of to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. She went back to her mother’s house, but the situation was unstable and she had to leave. She stayed with her boyfriend until he became abusive, fleeing to protect herself and her daughter. Generous friends took Kamini and her daughter in, but their apartment was overcrowded and the landlord threatened them with eviction. 

Finally, Kamini applied for shelter through the state of Massachusetts, but was told that she made too much money to qualify. Hers is a conundrum faced by many low-income families in Boston: they work but do not earn enough to afford the high cost of rent and living expenses in Boston, yet their incomes are too high to qualify for state sponsored emergency assistance. 

Kamini felt she had run out of choices: “Some people were telling me to quit my job so I would be eligible for shelter, but that just wasn’t an option for me. My job was my security blanket, and besides, I had another person to take care of. How was I going to feed her if I was unemployed? At the same time, we were homeless.  I felt as if my back was up against a wall.”

Kamini came to FamilyAid Boston in April of 2013, feeling deeply pessimistic about her situation: “I didn't expect that I would be helped. But I was wrong – they really helped me and gave back my sense of hope.” FamilyAid Boston briefly placed Kamini and her daughter in a shelter unit. While she was relieved to have a roof over her head, Kamini still longed for a home. More importantly to her, her daughter did as well: “She came home from camp one day and asked why everyone else at her camp had a home. I froze. I truly didn't know how to answer.” 

Kamini soon had an answer for her daughter. She was accepted into FamilyAid Boston’s Rapid Re-housing program, and the family soon had their own apartment. “This was just the start to a whole new beginning for me. When I took my daughter to our new apartment, she was excited and began to regain her sense of security.”
As soon as she had a stable home, Kamini got to work on her next goal: earning her GED. Not having a high school diploma had long been a source of embarrassment for her, as well as a barrier to getting a better job. Kamini worked with her case manager to study and register for the exam, but when the day came, she was filled with self-doubt. Her case manager offered encouragement and told Kamini she knew she could pass – and she did. When Kamini called to tell her case manager the good news, she was moved by the reaction: “I couldn’t tell who was happier – her or me!”
 With her degree in hand, Kamini didn’t hesitate to take on the next challenge of finding a better job. She worked with FamilyAid Boston’s employment specialists to improve her resume and practice interviewing. Within 6 weeks, Kamini was thrilled to be offered her “dream job” in healthcare administration: “I have a position at a company that has the potential for growth, wonderful benefits and a great location.” She and her daughter are happy in their apartment, and Kamini is saving money and planning for a brighter future.

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