Dominique is a 32-year-old single mother who lives at Mercy Housing Lakefront’s (MHL) Washington Courts in Chicago’s Austin community. She was born and raised in the North Lawndale community, just five miles south of the Austin neighborhood. “I moved with my one-year-old daughter Maliha to Indianapolis, because I had family issues here … I lived with my cousin for some time.” After a lot of difficulty finding a stable home, she moved her family back to Chicago. “My daughter was getting fed up and we were going through a lot financially. I heard about Mercy Housing through a friend, they called me up one day and told me about it in 2014… I applied.”
While she waited for her housing application to be approved, Dominique earned her high-school equivalency diploma. Once her Mercy Housing application was approved, she moved into Washington Courts. There, she had her son, Azariel. She wanted to ensure that her children received the best educational opportunities possible, and she enrolled them at the best schools she could find and afford. Mercy Housing onsite staff helped her navigate the school system and were always a resource, offering support emotionally as well.
To improve her career, Dominique got an associate degree in Criminal Justice. When the pandemic began in March 2020, Dominique had just started working full-time as a security guard that January. “When COVID started, I couldn’t work anymore because my kids were at home… I worked the night shifts, so I couldn’t be there in the morning to help them get ready for school.” To make matters more challenging, her sister moved. Dominique had been relying on her sister as a babysitter. Because her children have asthma, they are at high–risk of hospitalization if they contract COVID-19. Thus, Dominique has had no choice but to stay at home to watch the kids, while her career is placed on hold. “I’m just trying to pay the utility bills and the rent … It’s been hard … It’s not hard for me to find a job … I just need help finding childcare.”
To help her kids, Mercy Housing Resident Services Coordinators (RSCs) provided games and activities for them to do at home. “They both have been kind of depressed [since COVID-19], they want to go outside and play … Cedric, the RSC, gave out hooked-on-phonics activities for my son and board games for the both of them back in May. Cedric, the RSC also gave them books in July. I am able to read to my children every night now. I am grateful for the help I receive.”
As she reflects on her time living at Washington Courts, Dominique says “I’m blessed to [now] have a roof over me and my kids’ heads … Mercy has helped me out a lot, I mean that mentally and emotionally, as well.”
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