After 14 years with the U.S. Postal Service and several more as a property manager, Tracie Long found herself unemployed.
She filed for unemployment insurance benefits, and when those ran out, welfare.
“I was looking for a job the whole time,” said Long, a single mother of three. “I’ve never ever been unemployed. I felt like a failure.”
She cried behind closed doors so her children wouldn’t see.
But she never gave up.
“You can’t do that especially when you have six little eyes looking up at you,” she said. “I had to counsel my children during that period – why we don’t have this, don’t have that.”
She did everything the employment guidance counselors suggested: job training followed by an internship.
But all that took time and as the bills mounted, she fell behind in rent.
That’s when the first eviction notice came.
Her family helped a bit, but it wasn’t enough.
Her landlord wanted all the back rent, plus hundreds of dollars in fees and two months rent.
That’s when Long landed a job.
She was hired for a full-time property management job through a temp agency – a good position that paid well.
The paychecks, however, couldn’t come fast enough to hold off eviction and keep her family in their home.
A few days before she was to move out, the Season of Sharing Fund agreed to help her catch up on rent, giving her the breathing room she needed to start fresh with her new full-time job.
“Ms. Long’s story is representative of the problems many Bay Area families are experiencing,” said her CalWORKS caseworker, Daniel Jameyson, in his support letter for a Season of Sharing grant. “As her new job started, which would cover her future household expenses, the issue of Ms. Long’s back rent remained. An incidence of homelessness at this time would have been devastating to the job opportunity Ms. Long worked so hard for.”
The modest, one-time assistance made all the difference, Jameyson said.
With a bit of other debt to still pay down, Long said this Christmas will be a little smaller this year, something her children understand.
“The whole experience, it humbles you,” she said. “You are thankful for the little things.
“I just want to be with my family and that’s it.”