The CEO Exchange | Homeless to Home – Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada
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Homeless to Home – Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada

Homeless to Home – Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada

Ramiro was one of thousands who lost his job in the construction industry as a result of the Great Recession. Though the next few years were difficult, a new joy came into his life as he became a father. Ramiro said his son Elias gave him new purpose in life. However, when Elias was just a year old, Ramiro and Elias’ mother separated and Ramiro became a single father. They had moved to be near her family, but unfortunately the atmosphere in the community where they were living was becoming increasingly dangerous and violent with gang presence and drug activity.

Ramiro took Elias to Las Vegas in February 2016, hoping to find work and start over. Without enough money for a hotel room, the truck a friend had loaned him was the only home they had. They stayed in it for five weeks. Knowing they needed help and a safe place to rest, Ramiro sought shelter for himself and his son at several agencies, but they were turned away again and again. Elias was not permitted into men’s shelters, where the minimum age limit is 18. Ramiro could not stay at the shelters that typically welcome children, as they allowed women and children only. Ramiro’s desperation grew: it seemed they were completely out of options.

But there was one more place to try.

One afternoon, Ramiro and Elias arrived at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. They were hungry. They were dirty. They were hot and covered in sweat. The Catholic Charities staff knew the situation was serious by the sheer exhaustion of the pair: the moment little Elias was given a blanket; he immediately laid down on it and fell fast asleep.

Ramiro remembers the moment and said, “I had not slept for days. God sent these angels.”

Although the Catholic Charities overnight shelter has the same age restrictions as the other shelters, not allowing children to enter alongside the hundreds of men who stay each night, the staff was determined to help.

Since it was early in the day and the shelter was not yet open, Catholic Charities allowed Ramiro and Elias to use the restroom and shower facilities inside, and then provided funding to cover temporary housing at a motel. The staff also helped Ramiro and Elias sign up for Catholic Charities’ Homeless to Home program, supported by funding from the MGM Resorts Foundation. Homeless to Home is designed specifically to provide rent and deposits for families with children who are facing homelessness, providing the necessary stability for parents to obtain employment and children to stay enrolled in school. Ramiro and Elias moved into their own apartment through Homeless to Home on March 1, 2016.

When they were moved in, Ramiro shared that he was grateful for the newfound sense of peace in their situation, “so now I can focus on finding work.” He added, “I am so thankful for Catholic Charities, to find us a home. We are indeed safe now, and my son can go to school.” The Homeless to Home program also provided a monthly bus pass to assist Ramiro in his job search, as well as assistance in getting TAM and Health cards.

Throughout the process, Ramiro began working part-time and continued to meet with his Catholic Charities case manager regularly. He attended a family stability class through United Way as he continued to seek full-time employment.