The Days Inn Hotel located on the west side of Bloomington has seen its fair share of tourists, but for the last three years there were also many that considered the Days Inn to be home.
VEAP Social Worker James McCants Jr. explains why some people end up living in hotels: “Each family has its own difficulties, challenges, or barriers. Some individuals have mental health problems, substance abuse issues, financial barriers, or a limited or damaged rental history.” However, over the summer it was announced that the hotel would soon be closing and around twenty families, half of them with children, were facing homelessness.
While at first the news was catastrophic to many, VEAP was thankfully able to provide a crisis intervention. Social Services Director Jessica Hering commented, “It was really an honor for VEAP to be called upon to support members of our community who were experiencing this transition from the Days Inn, and help them with finding new housing as well as some financial support for their move. We were able to quickly mobilize our staff to connect with the families, provide resources, help them brainstorm options, and assist with deposits, first month’s rent, gift cards, and gas cards.”
During the first month after VEAP stepped in, the families were moved to a motel for a month to breathe and regroup. During that time, James personally connected with a member of each family to explore options and plan for the future.
Of all the people James worked with, there was one in particular who stood out. A single mother of five was, understandably, very frustrated with the whole situation and just wanted it to be resolved immediately. James worked with her one step at a time to get things figured out, even offering access to free therapy and employment resources. The woman and her children are now in the process of moving into permanent subsidized housing. “I was impressed with her,” James noted. “She really stepped up and followed through.”
Although the initial crisis has passed, over the next few months VEAP will continue reaching out to these families about what their plans are and how VEAP might be able to help them. Many have already begun locating housing on their own, but James is always available if they need any guidance.
Thank you to James for the incredible work that he does with patience and compassion, and thank you to United Properties and the Pohlad Family Foundation who make this kind of assistance possible.