Following a devastating family crisis, Chris spent three years living in shelters around the Chicago region. Last year, upon moving into a new, transitional shelter, he found a full-time job, which would finally allow him to find an apartment.
Eager to have a place of his own, Chris saved up for his security deposit and first month’s rent and began planning his move. However, upon signing a lease for his new place, he hit a roadblock.
When he tried to turn on the electricity services at the new apartment, the electric provider informed him that, while he was living in the shelters, the electric bill at his old apartment continued to accrue and was never paid. Though he was able to prove he hadn’t lived there, the bills were still in his name.
To resolve the situation, Chris was referred to a financial counseling program through the Jewish United Fund of Chicago (JUFC), a United Way community partner. United Way supports social service agencies, like JUFC, as they tackle our neighbors’ most pressing needs, including establishing financial stability and literacy.
Chris was fully committed to the process and ready to make a plan for his future. At his first appointment with the financial counseling program, he and the counselor estimated his expenses and identified resources that could help him get on his feet. Chris was also creative in identifying ways to save his hard-earned money, like carpooling with his colleagues to work, and accessing free resources, like career and education planning.
To relieve him of the financial and emotional stress of the overdue electric bill, the JUFC counseling team worked with the company to pay off the accrued balance. Within two hours of the call, it agreed to turn on the electricity.
Finally, Chris was able to move into his new home!
But JUFC’s assistance didn’t end there. Like United Way, JUFC recognizes that many issues our neighbors face are interconnected and require multiple services to ensure they can reach their full potential.
For Chris, that meant providing him with necessities to ensure his home was livable and comfortable. During Chris’ subsequent financial counseling appointments, JUFC gave him a furniture and home goods voucher for a local Goodwill and a connection to a local mattress store that offers reduced prices to JUFC clients.
Armed with his budget sheets and keys to his new apartment, Chris left their offices feeling well-prepared, financially and otherwise, to build his new life.