After Experiencing Homelessness, Mother of Six Finds Hope and a Fresh Start
At 27 years old, Kimyada Robinson parents six children on her own while working full-time as an assistant pre-Kindergarten teacher and a school bus attendant in Saint Paul. In the evenings, she studies online for a bachelor’s degree.
Just two years ago, Kimyada, a participant in Wilder Supportive Housing Services, experienced homelessness after moving her young family to Saint Paul seeking a fresh start. Working with Wilder and other service providers in the Twin Cities, she found housing for her family and training to pursue a job, along with support and encouragement as she pursues her goals for a better life.
“I’m really proud of where I am now, but I don’t think I’m where I want to be in the end,” Kimyada says.
Starting Over in Saint Paul After Losing Home in Illinois
Kimyada grew up in Chicago. She had a son when she was 15 years old, and eventually had five daughters with her now ex-partner. As a new mother, Kimyada and her children stayed with her mother and at times with friends or relatives of her children’s father. Eventually, she found a good job with the postal service and rented a townhouse in a city outside Chicago. But she was laid off, was late paying her rent and eventually faced eviction.
An uncle in Saint Paul suggested she start over in Minnesota. “My mom drove us,” Kimyada says. “We got a U-Haul. We checked into a hotel, she gave us some money, and we cried and we prayed. She tried to convince me to come back, but I said, ‘This is my new start.’”
Kimyada wasn’t able to find work or housing as quickly as she had hoped. The family stayed at hotels as she continued to search. Eventually she joined Project REACH, a program of Saint Paul Public Schools that serves families who live in temporary housing, and The Family Place, a day center for homeless families in Ramsey County.
For the next five months, Kimyada and her children spent the night at churches and used the services at the day center. Her children celebrated several birthdays with staff at the day center. “I have the humblest, most accepting kids,” Kimyada says. “They find the best of everything.”
Wilder Housing Team Provides Support for Goals
Through the Coordinated Access to Housing and Shelter system, Kim and her family were connected to the rapid rehousing program at Wilder Supportive Housing Services. “It has been awesome,” Kimyada says. “The support and the things that Wilder does are amazing.”
At Wilder, Kimyada worked with a team who helped her identify her goals and overcome barriers to achieving them. Because Kimyada is a survivor of domestic violence, a staff member who has professional expertise with that type of trauma offered support and guidance as Kimyada worked through a payment plan with her former landlord and learned how to explain an arrest related to the abuse to potential employers. “Gloria let me know it’s OK to have been through what I’ve been through and to fight past it,” Kimyada says.
Kimyada also works with a housing specialist and a counselor in the housing program. In September 2017, she and her family moved into a cozy apartment in Saint Paul, and a year later Kimyada signed a new lease. “I really appreciate the chance that he took on me,” she says of her landlord.
Now settled with her family, Kimyada is making plans for the future. “I want to be a pre-K teacher and to own my own house,” she says. “Even knowing that my name would be on a deed one day gives me goose bumps. You don’t realize until you don’t have it.”