"MIFA came through."
Ask Gwen Coburn how she went from homeowner to homeless and she has a simple, honest answer.
"I chose to marry a man I knew was not all that good," she says. "I thought, "I'll get me a man and fix him up.' To be honest, I wanted someone who didn't have much so he'd appreciate me. I was just blind--I wanted to see something different. And he took me for everything."
She helped her new husband build a small business--then she lost her job. Her unemployment ran out in November of 2011, and by April her husband told her he was out of money and that she and her son, Isaiah, were going to have to find someplace else to live.
Honesty is just one of Gwen's qualities. She's also resilient--within a month she had a job at Kroger in Cordova. But none of that changed the fact that her debt was mounting or that she and Isaiah were moving from one friend's house to the next.
By the time she was steered to MIFA, she and Isaiah had moved six times. Her MIFA caseworker, Ms. Ball, helped determine Gwen's eligibility for assistance through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing program. "She saw what I was able to pay and helped me with a budget," Gwen said. "She stuck right there by me, and then they paid my down payment and my first month's rent. It gave me a chance to get situated, right when I needed it."
She and Isaiah moved in October of 2013.
"MIFA showed me love."
"MIFA showed me love," she says. "Ms. Ball didn't judge me. She checks in with me to see if there's anything we need, like a certificate for shoes for Isaiah. The main thing is just the love they show. Knowing she's there to help, that makes me almost cry."
She hopes to own her own home again one day, but for now she's full of gratitude that she and her son are together under one roof.
"Isaiah asked me, 'Mama, we don't have to move now?' And I said, "No, baby. MIFA came through."