Getting a good night sleep at a hotel can be hard. Getting a good night sleep at a hotel when you cannot afford to stay another night is even more stressful.
Twenty-two-year-old Priscilla Perez has been living in and out of hotels since 2016 when a domestic violence dispute between her parents ripped her family apart. Her father took his own life, leaving her mother struggling to support the family. Now Perez is a young mother herself, with a 2-year-old son named Mateo Herrera in her care.
“At some hotels I would have to pay daily, so you can’t even go to sleep right because you are worrying about having the money for tomorrow morning,” Perez said.
At the start of 2022, she began a job at Quick Quack Car Wash on Beach Boulevard and Ball Road in Anaheim. She also left Mateo’s father, sensing the start of a domestic violence cycle she was set on breaking.
“When I got the job I also left his dad because he was starting to be really abusive. I thought, I need to get out of here,” said Perez. “I moved on Dec. 31, then I got the job at Quick Quack. My first day was Jan. 1.”
During her onboarding with her manager, Perez mentioned she needed to pay for a hotel that night for her and her son.
“I got into contact with Family Promise on Jan. 2,” said Perez. “My manager got me into contact with Cyndee.”
Cyndee Albertson is the executive director at Family Promise of Orange County, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of family homelessness by offering emergency shelter, transitional housing and graduate support services.
“Family Promise of Orange County’s mission is to end family homelessness,” said Albertson. “We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and we have helped over 450 families in those 10 years.”
Albertson got to work locating an extended-stay hotel that had an opening for Perez and her son, an effort that wasn’t easy.
“That day was a mission,” said Perez. “But she didn’t give up even though it was difficult. I was like wow, she is really my angel right now. Cyndee did not give up on me.”
Albertson was able to secure an 18-day stay at a hotel for Perez.
“For me, the most important thing is not leaving any child, any mom out on the street,” Albertson said.
Albertson said the help doesn’t just end after 18 days. Family Promise provides families with resources, support and training they need to stabilize. That holistic approach makes a difference.
“On average, even in this pandemic, we have had 89% of families transition to permanent housing,” said Albertson. “ Not one of our graduate families from 2020, 2021 and through today, none of them have lost their housing. We have a 100% retention rate.”
Perez was connected with vital resources through the team at Family Promise that helped her get back on her feet.
“They got me resources for daycare, medical, we got cash aid now,” said Perez. “And I am getting my hotel paid with homeless assistance from social services, and I had no idea that was even a thing. With Family Promise, you ask for help and you receive it.”
Typically homeless assistance provides a 16-day voucher for a hotel, but since Perez was fleeing a domestic violence situation, she qualified for 32 days.
“There is a synergy between our organizations,” said Albertson.
Family Promise partners with companies like Quick Quack Car Wash that share the nonprofit’s vision.
To further support Perez and her son, Quick Quack is hosting a fundraiser on March 14 from 4 to 7 p.m. The car wash plans to match the earnings.
“Quick Quack’s slogan is ‘changing lives for the better,’ and they really lived up to that,” said Perez.
Family Promise will also be matching up to $5,000 in funds to help Perez and her son remain in stable housing and create a better future.
Although it was challenging, she knows leaving her violent situation wasn’t just a choice for her but her son. Since January, Perez has been promoted to assistant store lead and is now looking for an apartment in Orange County that will accept Rapid Re-housing funds.
“I fell so hard to the bottom,” said Perez, “But I ricocheted to the top.”
Although she is still in a hotel, she is sleeping better knowing that she‘s on the path to more permanent housing.
“What’s changed is now I have more hope, that I am going to be OK,” said Perez. “I don’t feel like I am going to have nowhere to go with my baby. I just feel more safe with this help.”
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