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Family Shelter Resident Reflects on Homelessness

Josephine Crawley-Richardson is a 63-year-old mother, grandmother, caregiver, and a resident at our Espigh Family Shelter.

“I never thought I’d be one to end up here,” she said.

Josephine shared her story and described losing her home after trying to help a friend. A cancer survivor herself, she offered to rent a car for a women suffering from the disease who wished to visit family in Atlanta. Unfortunately, Josephine was hit with an outstanding bill when the woman’s family returned the car several days after it was due back.

The bill surpassed her monthly rent and kept her from paying her landlord on time. As a result, she and her three grandchildren were evicted. Two of those children are temporarily staying with other family members until she gets settled once again, but her granddaughter, who just turned 18 last week, remains in her care.

“We were living in a hotel before this. I spent my last dollar there. People told me shelters were terrible and that we’d sleep on the floor, but this is nice. I don’t have to worry now about where we will sleep or how we will eat.”

She added “This really can happen to anybody at any given time.”

Josephine is diligently searching for a new home with her grandchildren in mind. She has custody of all three and has cared for them for many years while their mother has been incarcerated. She had help from her husband and the children’s father before they both passed away, within 9 months of each other, in 2008.

She excitedly commented that her granddaughter wants to be a dentist and is looking at options for college. She was recently accepted into a program in Philadelphia, but is still interested in Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).  “I’m worried for her. I want her to go to college, but not so far away. She is so young, quiet, and so very smart, “ Josephine said.

She said smiling, “Whatever she does, I will back her one hundred percent. She will make her own money and be her own woman.”

Josephine reflected on her time in the shelter, “HomeAgain has given me the right tools and opportunities. You think ‘shelter’ and you think of something scary, but this is a nice place.”

HomeAgain is hopeful that Josephine will soon be rapidly re-housed and will reunite with her other grandchildren in a place of her own.

“I pray it will all be alright. I would tell people to go to a shelter. Don’t fight it! They will help you get on your feet, living comfortable.”