In the fall of 2015, Candy Braget was pregnant with her fourth child, suffering from gestational diabetes, and her family was homeless. Unsure of where to turn for assistance, she called 211 in Snohomish County and was referred to LCS Northwest’s Family Support program. That phone call changed her life.
Braget was connected with LCS Northwest Housing Navigator Lori Morgan.
“Lori is an amazing navigator,” Braget said. “Not only did she work with me over time to get my family into housing, but she listened to me without being judgmental and provided me with some much needed emotional support.”
The family’s downward spiral began when Braget’s husband was laid off from his job. They fell behind on rent and were forced out of their home. The couple separated briefly so Braget and the children could shuttle temporarily between her parents and her sister in Lake Stevens. Her husband spent brief periods with an elderly parent and occasionally rented a motel room.
The family also spent nights sleeping in their vehicle.
“We’d park the car in out-of-the-way spots in retail parking lots in Everett and Lynnwood and hope no one would notice us,” Braget recalled. “We were living in our car when I delivered my baby, My husband rented us a motel room for a couple of weeks after I was released from the hospital so the baby and I could rest adequately.”
Although Braget’s husband enrolled with a temp agency and received steady work assignments as a data analyst, finding permanent housing remained a challenge. There is a shortage of good rental housing and Candy found herself in competition with other renters.
“A housing shortage, up front move-in costs and their rental history presented barriers for them,” explained Lori Morgan. “I helped Candy persevere with her housing search. When we finally located a duplex in Everett for them, I connected her with the YWCA and Volunteers of America for move-in assistance.”
The family moved into their home in July 2016, eight months after Braget made that initial phone call. The Lake Stevens Family Center helped the family with food, clothing, diapers, and school supplies for the kids.
Today things are beginning to look up for the family.
“Having a place to call home adds stability to our lives,” Braget said. “The kids are settling into their new schools and it’s possible to breast feed my baby comfortably. We still have financial setbacks, like when our car broke down recently, but there are fewer of them. We’re very careful with our money and I have learned how to stretch my food budget.”
Braget hopes her husband finds a permanent job that offers health insurance. Their four children qualify for health care but she and her husband do not have coverage. Having medical coverage for the two of them would ease her worries, she said.