The path to self-sufficiency was not an easy or quick road. But today, Jessica Hodges, her husband, and their three children (ages six, eight and 10) are living the life they dreamed of, thanks to the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, the Mustard Seed School and Mary House.
Three years ago, their youngest child developed a cough that required two surgeries and resulted in scarred lungs. Upon discovering that the cause was mold inside the walls, the family moved out of their apartment in a hurry. This sudden move impacted their credit, which ultimately prevented them from finding permanent housing. And, because the mold had contaminated all of their belongings—including clothes, photos and furniture—everything had to be abandoned.
Around the same time, Jessica graduated from Kaplan College but was laid off from her job as a medical assistant for a local doctor.
Jessica expressed her dismay at her living conditions and at the circular challenges—securing a job without a permanent address was an uphill battle, while finding a home without a job and with damaged credit was nearly impossible.
County Director of the Department of Human Assistance (DHA) Ann Edwards, confirmed the currently rental housing landscape is bleak for struggling families. Low vacancy rates and escalating rents - far above what many residents can afford, make finding housing difficult.
In November, County DHA Social Worker Samantha Sween partnered with Mustard Seed School Director Casey Knittel to stabilize the Hodges and to develop a plan.
As the children attended the Mustard Seed School, County DHA staff and Mary House staff were assisting the family with services and supplies.
The group effort paid off a few days before Christmas. After three long years of sleeping on couches, in hotels and in their van, the Hodges—with only sleeping bags and pillows—finally moved into an apartment where they could start over.
Much to their surprise, staff from the Mustard Seed School brought gifts for the children, ranging from clothes to iPads.
“We didn’t have any furniture,” Jessica expressed with a smile, “But it was the most touching Christmas ever because I did not have anything to give them [until these gifts arrived]. They even brought a Christmas tree.”
In March, bolstered by her degree, Jessica was hired by SMPP Rehab as a Medical Office Specialist. Her husband is attending school to develop new skills while caring for their children.
Their three children miss their teachers and friends at Mustard Seed School, but are grateful they no longer need the assistance and for the first time in years, the family is doing great.
To apply for medical, food and cash assistance programs online please visit CalWIN