I’m a single mom and a social worker. My kids and I have lived in our Topeka apartment for several years, and we absolutely love our home. It’s not just the apartment itself we love, it’s also the neighbors and community that have come to feel more like family.
Due to hardships both personal and COVID-related, I recently lost my job. All of a sudden, one of my biggest fears was staring me in the face. I was about to lose the stability and security my kids depend on to thrive. I felt like a failure with no family or safety net to fall back on.
I’ve dedicated my life to working in the human services field and helping those in need daily. But I had become one of those in need. After fretting and obsessing for weeks, my amazing landlord called me with information about this program that could help with rent. No way will I qualify, no way will they be able to cover all that I need, this just sounds too good to be true, I thought to myself as I hopelessly completed the application.
A few days later, I got a call from the KERA customer service team. Ashamed and embarrassed, I answered the call and began explaining my situation. To my surprise, the woman on the other end of the line was not judgmental or cold at all. In fact, she was the complete opposite! She had this warmth and kindness in her voice that I will never forget. She told me it would be okay and that she would do her best to get me approved.
For the first time in almost a month, I sat down…and took a breath. I wanted to reach through the phone and hug this woman! I wasn’t just some case number on a form, I was a human being. Just then the shame I felt started to melt away. But more importantly, the fear started to melt away. For the first time, I felt hopeful. A few months later, KERA fully paid my past-due rent.
Of course, the panic started to set in again when I still hadn’t found employment and thought KERA had covered my final month of rent at that point. What am I going to do now? I’m so close, yet so far away. I still lead a busy volunteer schedule, coaching Sunflower Soccer and flag football, serving as PTA treasurer and room parent at the elementary school, and running the district’s fall fundraiser. I kept getting up, day after day, helping those I could, while panicking on the inside about how I was going to help myself.
When I received an email about reapplying for an additional three months of KERA assistance, I felt a hope I couldn’t put into words.
Suddenly, I had a vision of my family succeeding again. The KERA program gave my kids their home back. it gave this exhausted, ashamed, feeling-like-a-failure, mom her life back. You gave us a chance to get back on our feet. This is how a community thrives — not by kicking each other when we’re down, but supporting those is need and believing in them when they forget how to believe in themselves.
God bless you KERA staff! You all are angels!
Allyson, Jaydyn, Jenna, Brielle and Kalem
Editor’s Note: Once an applicant’s KERA dashboard status reads “Payment Sent,” the household is eligible to recertify for an additional three months of prospective rental assistance at a time, for a total of 15 months. Applicants will receive email reminders to reapply after payments are sent with the these instructions to complete the process.