Joan and John were first encountered at Suisan Boat Harbor, on Oct 22, 2009, in their car… they were homeless, and needed help. “It was John’s birthday….we went out to celebrate, and when we came back, his mom had locked us out.”, remembers Joan. She and John were paying renters in an apartment belonging to his mother, but according to John, it was a rocky situation at best. John was collecting unemployment at the time, but he had two children living in the mainland, and he had just sent a care package to them, including $500, all of his money. Joan had a full time job at Walmart, but that went for rent and food, and they had very little saved. When they were kicked out, they had only $90 to their name, in cash.
Deciding to gather their possessions and put them into storage, (costing $50), and not wanting to bother their friends, they decided to stay in their car. They needed help. When Sabrina Cantan, a HOPE Outreach Specialist, encountered the couple at Suisan Boat Harbor, she gave them hygiene items and some food, and referred them to Workforce development and to Waiakea Villas for housing. She told them that HOPE might be able to help with some first month’s rent if they completed a renter’s education class, and they jumped at the chance.
So for the next three weeks they attended class every day. When their application for Waiakea Villas was denied due to a criminal background check, it was frustrating. During that time they still stayed in their car, and sometimes with friends, but Joan continued to work her full time job at Walmart. John enrolled in HOPE’s Employment Readiness and Incentive Program (ERIP). He did a number different things, working with HOPE staffer Les Estrella, doing drywall, construction and landscaping. Because of his good work, Les gave him a referral to Freddy’s Restaurant, and because of that referral, John was offered a job as a cook. With the help of Charlene Malendres, HOPE housing specialist, they continued their search for housing and on Dec. 7, 2009 , they were approved to rent their own apartment through Ala Kai realty.
Today, (over 8 months later) , they are both employed full time and continue to remain in housing. “I think we were too comfortable at John’s (mom’s) house, I think we were complacent”, says Joan. “I have my own bank account now for the first time, we go to the gym, and our car is legal! Life is great!” Positive and hopeful, Joan says that she wants to go to college and John agrees that he does too. Both John and Joan have reconciled with their families.