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Palm Beach County single mother struggles with housing costs after losing job during pandemic

Lord's Place experiences 116% increase in people needing housing help
Posted at 4:20 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 18:16:08-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Having to turn some families away is a reality for the Lord's Place, an organization that provides resources to prevent homelessness in Palm Beach County.

The nonprofit is stretched as far as it can to help a growing number of people dealing with rising rent costs.

It’s a labor of love for the Lord's Place to connect people with housing and the opportunity to work again.

In the last year, there has been a 116 percent increase in the number of people the organization has helped with housing. And that figure is not slowing down.

For a single mom named Deniece, who did not want to give her last name, getting back into the culinary world means a fresh start.

Deniece, single mom struggling with housing costs
Deniece is among the many Palm Beach County residents struggling to pay their rent.

She went through some dark months last year.

"It was just not knowing each day where me and my kids we're going to stay," Deniece said.

When the pandemic hit, she lost her job as a preschool teacher and started cooking and catering for money.

She made ends meet until it was time to renew her rental lease.

"He wanted to go up about $500. As a single mom, that was just something I could not afford at the time," Deniece said.

She then bounced from hotel to hotel.

"It was very hard," she said.

Cost of housing in Palm Beach County
A person making $11 an hour would need to have at least three full-time jobs to pay for housing in Palm Beach County, according to the Lord's Place.

Some days she wasn't sure where her two kids would lay their heads at night.

"As a mom, you don't want to let your kids see you sweat, but you also just don't want to leave them with anybody," Deniece said.

She was only a day away from living on the streets, so Deniece turned to the Lord's Place.

"We are starting to see that you're going to need to have twice as much income in order to rent anything," said Diana Stanley, the CEO of the Lord's Place.

Stanley said the number of people they had to house last year jumped 60 percent.

The Lord's Place said in order to spend less than 30 percent of income on rent, a single parent making $11 an hour would have to work at least three full-time jobs to afford the average rent in Palm Beach County.

"What we thought we could go ahead and rent for our clients a year and a half ago is not even available to us," Stanley said. "It's way out of our price range."

Diana Stanely
Diana Stanely says the need for affordable housing has skyrocketed in the past year in Palm Beach County.

Stanley said the organization has had to get creative with shared housing, family reunification and social enterprise businesses like help from Joshua Deli.

"It has a two-prong approach. It's a training site, and it's also a revenue producer," Stanley said.

It is helping clients get back to work and using profit to fund programs.

With help from the Lord's Place, Deniece said she's now renting a home she can afford.

"I'm just grateful that I have the strength to go through the darkness to be able to see that sunlight," Deniece said.

In two weeks, she gets back into the kitchen at Joshua Deli.

"Do your kids enjoy your cooking?" asked WPTV Senior Reporter Michele Quesada.

"Oh, they tell me I'm the best. They better," Deniece laughs.

There are resources available if you are in need of rental assistance, electric and utility assistance or relocation assistance.

The Palm Beach County Community Services Department can help answer your questions.

If you or someone you know is facing imminent homelessness, contact the Lord's Place.