Last year, Kyle’s world was spinning. In a matter of months he lost his job and was facing homelessness. Suddenly, Kyle was in desperate need of a place to stay for him, his 4-year-old daughter Kylie and 6-year-old son Cameron.

“I was living in Chicago with the kids, then I lost my job, so I moved to Milwaukee to live with my sister, then she ended up losing her house,” Kyle said. 

Last year, the city of Milwaukee counted 1,224 individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Of that total, 390 (32%) were in an emergency shelter and 115 (9%) were unsheltered. The top reasons for homelessness were: lost job (49%), housing costs too high (34%), relationship/family breakup or death (33%) and eviction (29%). 

Thanks to three United Way-funded partners, Kyle quickly received the help he needed. First, he contacted the United Way-funded 2-1-1 Coordinated Entry (CE) system. CE helps individuals and families experiencing homelessness or potential homelessness by connecting them with organizations providing housing services. 2-1-1 staff connected Kyle to YWCA’s Transitional Housing program (another United Way program partner), which provided him with temporary housing and supportive services, including work and life management education, parenting skills and therapy sessions for his children.

“My stress level started to go down and, in turn, so did my kids’ stress. They no longer had to worry about where they were moving next. They were free to be themselves,” Kyle said.

Once Kyle completed the YWCA Transitional Housing program, he was referred to a case manager with a third United Way-funded program, Community Advocates Housing Services. They placed Kyle in a 3-bedroom permanent home within Maskani Place Apartments this past January. Through the program Kyle also received rent assistance and furniture donations.

“I started seeing a lot of improvements: the kids started smiling at everything more often and doing better in school. Having a place to call home definitely gave them that piece-of-mind factor,” said Kyle.

Last year, 95 % of adults and families that utilized United Way-funded emergency shelters felt their basic needs were met. 83% were confident their housing situation would improve after leaving the shelter.

“What’s great about Kyle’s story is that he was helped by not one but three United Way program partners,” said Shannon Reed, United Way Financial Stability Portfolio Manager. “And because of the coordinated efforts between those three organizations, Kyle was able to achieve stable housing.”

In just 6 short months, United Way helped Kyle turn his life around and gave him resources to support his young family. Today, Kyle works full-time at WE Energies as a Collections Officer and continues to do well in the Community Advocates Housing Program. He pays rent on time and has never missed a scheduled home visit with his case manager, one of the requirements of the program.  

“Without United Way funding, we would be unable to help families like Kyle’s to bridge back over into permanent housing and to that sustainable life that he’s now enjoying,” said Andi Elliot, Executive Director of Community Advocates.

When he’s not working, Kyle is very active in his children’s life, taking them to the park or just hanging out playing games at home.  He credits his success to the great collaboration and advocacy from United Way.

“You either have a house or a home and, to me, it’s finally a home. I’m definitely grateful and thankful,” said Kyle.

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© 2020 United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 39-0806190.