Miriam’s House works to end homelessness by connecting families with affordable housing

Tashama Carter, of Miriam’s House, loads a basket of household supplies into her car for a client in need Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, in Lynchburg, Va.

She moved from North Carolina to Virginia, where she was promised a place to stay, but it didn’t work out.

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The two older kids went to live with their father, but she and her 20-month-old daughter lived at the shelter for a few weeks until she moved into Miriam’s House.

“I never thought I’d be homeless,” she said. “I was facing a lot of boundaries at the time.”

With the help of Miriam’s House, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness by connecting families with affordable housing, Cobbs and two of her children now have their own home, near Dearington Elementary School for Innovation.

After she moved into the single-family, two-bedroom home in April 2015, Cobbs, 36, said she was given a second chance.

“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be,” she said. “Miriam’s is one of the best things I’ve ever had in my life. They are the reason why I have my house. I’ve never had a home. They motivated me to become a better citizen.”

Sarah Quarantotto, executive director for Miriam’s House, said the organization is able to help families like the Cobbs because of its Community First program, which launched in 2013.

In January, the program received $100,000 from the state after former Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the state’s Housing Trust Fund would give $1.1 million in Homeless Reduction Grants for 13 projects in Virginia. Miriam’s House was one of them and the only program in the Lynchburg area to receive a grant.

Since the inception of the nonprofit’s Community First program, it has re-housed 333 people — 143 adults and 190 children — in the Lynchburg area.

The program works by directly linking families residing in domestic violence or homeless shelters with safe and affordable housing in the community.

The grant will enable the program to serve an additional 45 families in 2018. It also will fund a position for a housing coordinator, who will go into shelters and meet with families to connect them with housing. The coordinator, who Miriam’s House soon will hire for, will link children to a school and find employment for the parent and medical care so the family does not return to homelessness.

The nonprofit works will all area shelters to connect families with affordable housing. Oftentimes, Kandise Powell, a real estate agent with Re/Max, helps to find housing.

“It’s something they can keep, and that’s huge. Housing is a huge part of getting their life together and working towards stability,” she said.

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