COVID-19 pandemic deals another blow to homeless Cary family

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- According to the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End Homelessness, there has been a 27 percent increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness in the last six months, during the pandemic, compared to six months prior to COVID-19.

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Lynn Jones and her three daughters, Calena, 23, Treanna, 19, and Yaniyah, 13, are technically homeless. They live in a house in Cary owned by The Carying Place organization.

ABC11 met the Jones family on March 5, before the pandemic. They were on track to renting a home of their own after so many hardships.

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They moved to North Carolina from Washington in December and found themselves homeless after the home they were going to rent fell through.

The family ended up living in a shelter for six weeks and staying in their car for a few days.

"I didn't feel like a human being," Jones said in March, getting emotional. "I actually felt like-I'm a Christian. But I felt as though that I did something wrong and God was punishing me. When I know in my heart, that wasn't the truth but that's how, excuse me, that's how I felt. I felt like a failure."

The family enrolled in The Carying Place program, aimed at stopping the cycle of homelessness. As part of the program, the Jones family would gather with other homeless families, learning about budgeting and other life skills.

"I made an attempt to do my budget by myself," she said to an instructor on March 5. "I think I did it."

"We believe in empowering homeless working families, giving them the tools and the skills that they need so that they can become, sort of their own authors of faith," The Carying Place Executive Director Leslie Covington told ABC11 in March.

Covington said the program teaches families how to save money so they can afford to move out on their own. Families graduate if they complete the 16-week program.

"We usually get what I call the hidden homeless," Covington said. "They are working full-time. They are working hard but something's hit them, usually, some sort of tragedy."

The pandemic turned out to be yet another tragedy striking the Jones family.

"I was having a hard time finding housing because, like I said, people weren't doing in-person showings for houses or apartments," Jones said.

Then, Jones got into a car accident and eventually lost her job. Her daughters are helping take care of her.

"They're adults but they're my children," Jones said. "I brought them here and I've always been the head of the household. I want to be able to take care of my family."

The Carying Place is allowing the Jones family to stay at the home for now, helping them get back on their own feet. The classes have moved online due to the pandemic.

"All I can think about every day, all day long, is we need a home," Jones said.

Jones keeps her positive attitude, dreaming of a better future for her family.

"I'm a Christian and I believe in God and I believe in miracles," she said. "Somehow, some way, he's going to work that out. Once we're stable, we're safe, I can continue on with life."
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