June 6 at 4:42pm

Finding a Forever Home

Duane, Danielle, and their 10-month old baby boy visit Interfaith’s Escondido headquarters to share their story.

When talking with Duane and Danielle, it’s hard to imagine that their family experienced an intense stretch of homelessness just a few months prior. Duane, a mortgage loan officer, supported Danielle and their four children, living comfortably in their El Cajon home. After moving all over Southern California, Duane and Danielle had decided to make East San Diego County their home thanks to a computer sciences school they could send their children (ages 12, 11, 6, and 5) to.

After a routine doctor’s visit in the fall, Duane was told that he was pre-diabetic, and was put on medication. Within weeks, the medication had extreme effects on his body resulting in paralysis from the chest down. Being forced into a wheelchair with no idea what was causing the paralysis, Duane was terrified when doctors told him that he may never be able to walk again. He quickly became unable to work and the family survived solely off of savings, learning also around this time that Danielle was pregnant with their fifth child.

“I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t work,” said Duane. “We blew through our savings so quickly.”

Forced to move out of their home, Duane and Danielle came up with a plan – they were going to use their 10-person tent to house their family and move between campsites in El Cajon every few days or so. In the interim, this would allow their kids to stay in the same school and would buy them time to research next steps. It wasn’t easy though; while they were able to cook meals, shower, and get their children to where they needed to be, setting up and breaking down such a large operation became increasingly more difficult for Danielle as her pregnancy progressed. As many of the campsites they stayed in had wi-fi available, Duane set to researching local organizations and programs helping homeless families in the San Diego area. It was then that the family discovered Interfaith.

In January 2018, Duane and Danielle made the drive up to Escondido and met with a housing specialist to explain their situation. They were given food supplies to take home with them, as well as apartment leads in the El Cajon area for them to explore. Once they found an apartment they liked, they worked on filling out the application, at which time Interfaith was able to step in and offer to not only assist with Duane and Danielle’s rent for the first six months of the lease, but also pay double the security deposit to show that they were determined to end their homelessness.

“Interfaith made it so I wasn’t stressed out and could just focus on my health and getting better,” said Duane. “It made it so much easier to know we had someone in our corner, cheering us on and helping us put a roof over our kid’s heads again.”

In addition to the rental assistance, Interfaith was also able to help Duane and Danielle furnish their new apartment, since so many of their things had been either ruined while camping or were lost in storage units. The family each received new mattresses and bedding, as well as living room furniture and supplies for cooking in a real kitchen again – not over a camping fire.

Today, Danielle is officially employed as Duane’s caregiver while he works on regaining his strength. Light years ahead of what doctor’s projected, Duane is already able to walk with a walker and finds himself feeling better each and every day. Their kids are now all on the Honor Roll at their school, and the newest addition to their family, now 10-weeks old, is a precious baby boy who has a home to grow into.

“I don’t know where we would be without Interfaith; they fulfilled all of our needs,” said Danielle. “We spent a long time searching for help, so to come here and have everything happen so quickly was a blessing.”

To learn more about how you can help move homeless families off the streets, please contact Chief Development Officer Robert Adams by clicking here or by calling (760) 489-6380 ext. 202.