Yamaris, who does not abuse drugs or alcohol recalled, “I was homeless due to family disagreements. I lost my job because I had no place to do my laundry or to take a shower. I ended up sleeping on Cambridge Common or by the river. It was the summer so the weather was okay.” At the time she was a student at Lesley University working towards a degree in early education with a minor in photography. “I was in choir and dance class as well as other groups before I had to withdraw,” Yamaris said.
While at the Youth on Fire drop-in center, she met up with a HomeStart Housing Search advocate and within four months, Yamaris found housing. “The HomeStart staff was very efficient and very reliable,” she said. “It was not only about the job but about the person. I thought it would take a long time and that it was a waste of time but then I thought it might be real and I decided to work at it.”
Unfortunately, the challenges were not over for Yamaris. Shortly after moving into her new home, she discovered she was pregnant. After carrying the baby full-term, it sadly died during childbirth. Yamaris gives a lot of credit to her HomeStart Housing Stabilization advocate, Juana Cherif, for helping her get through this tough time. “I have an open relationship with Juana,” Yamaris said. “We talked about many things, not just HomeStart. She is there emotionally for me. It helps when you get along with your worker.”
According to Yamaris, due to her depression over the loss of her first child, she would have missed a lot of her required office visits with Juana. However, the advocate came to her home for the visits instead.
Yamaris has lived in her apartment for over 3 years now. She gave birth to her second child, Illyana, and life is truly looking up for the formerly homeless mother. Yamaris also ran into her biological mother one day in downtown Boston. The pair was separated when Yamaris was 15 and she had been doing phone book searches for her for several years. They were able to rebuild their relationship and are now working together on a project they hope will benefit other low-income parents.