Faces of Hope: Stefanie

Stefanie struggled to re-enter the job market after surviving a period of homelessness triggered by the fleeing of an abusive relationship with her former husband who held the housing voucher for the apartment where they lived.

“I’ve struggled with alcohol and drug addiction since I was about eighteen. I’m doing a lot better now. I left a five-year marriage. He had a housing voucher that he won in a lottery that got us off the streets.”

When their voucher ran out, the couple had to search for another apartment.

“When we were looking for another place, it was almost impossible. They’d tell us: you’ve got to have a good credit score, pay a non-refundable application fee and have a monthly income three times the monthly rent.’ How’re you supposed to do that when you’re just barely hanging on?” said Stefanie.

“A lot of apartment complexes would judge us by the way we looked. My husband and I worked as an arborist and we both dressed in our work clothes, the only clothes we had.”

The couple eventually received another housing voucher that would hold them over for a few months. But with the domestic violence in the household worsening, Stefanie’s hierarchy of needs was in jeopardy once again. Stefanie’s husband had the voucher and that left her without a secure place to stay.

“I tried to get into a domestic violence shelter. But there were no beds available at the time. That’s how I ended up at Samaritan House.”

Catholic Charities of Denver’s Samaritan House provides single women with safe dorm beds, three nutritious meals and support services including case management, goal setting, holistic wellness, employment readiness, housing navigation, financial and life-skills classes and referrals to community resources. Stefanie’s been using these tools to heal from the traumas of domestic violence and receive housing of her own.

“My advice to someone in a situation like mine? You’ve got to want to be clean. Be patient. Be aware of your surroundings. Be careful. I learned that if you breathe and take it one day at a time, it’ll work out. Everyone deserves a chance at a normal life.”