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Jessica was facing eviction - then United Way came to help

Jessica & partner

Jessica lives in Baltimore with her partner, a disabled veteran, and they were both artists who worked full-time. But when the pandemic hit, they were forced to reevaluate their career paths. Suddenly they were both out of work and couldn’t afford bills and rent. “It was absolutely terrifying,” shared Jessica. “We wanted to have faith and be optimistic, but at the end of the day, we were facing eviction.”

Jessica looked for help including unemployment benefits and food assistance, realizing quickly that it was tough to get an answer from many of these programs. After hearing about United Way’s Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention (STEP) program from her building management company, she and her partner filled out the application, and were contacted directly about what they needed to provide to get STEP assistance.

“The entire process was extremely easy and everybody who worked for the STEP program was very proactive. The paperwork was simple and easy to read, and we trusted our property management company was leading us in the right direction.”

Once Jessica got the good news that they qualified for help, she was surprised to find out that it not only paid the back rent—and three months beyond that. “We were just floored. We were behind for about six months which was half of our lease and to me that’s pretty serious,” said Jessica. “The STEP program just went above and beyond. It gave us so much time—the time that we needed to get back on track.”

“Everything happens for a reason and can lead you to incredible places in life where you learn and grow,” said Jessica, who now works in Human Resources for the hospitality industry.  I hope my story helps empower other people and gives them the confidence to reach out for help—because help and hope are there!”

Jessica recently shared her story with PBS NewsHour.