Stimulus cash and ABC11 viewer goodwill help Raleigh mom on the brink of homelessness

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- When Star Johnson said last week she and her two sons were facing dire straits in the middle of the pandemic. They were on the brink of homelessness and desperate for a lifeline.

Well, help did indeed arrive; Help from Wake County, from ABC11 viewers, and the federal stimulus program.


"As everyone can see, all it takes is a second, and you can be homeless," Johnson said. She has spent that past five weeks in a budget Raleigh hotel -- delinquent on their bill after she lost her job as a sous chef following a lupus-related health crisis -- then COVID-19 shut down her employer.

This week, the coronavirus stimulus checks started arriving from Washington. Johnson's money showed up in her bank account yesterday. It was a desperately needed $2,200 cash infusion.

RELATED: Families on brink of homelessness amid COVID-19 hope for lifeline from Wake County

"I was very excited. It changes a lot of things," Johnson said. "We can hopefully get out of the hotel and into an apartment with that."

In the White House Rose Garden, Wednesday, President Donald Trump offered more optimism that the federal government's financial relief efforts for taxpayers and businesses could breathe new life into an economy strangled by the public health crisis.
"We really think with all the stimulus and all the pent up demand we're gonna have an economy that really comes back quickly," Trump said.

Johnson's money crunch did not begin COVID-19. But it certainly made it worse. She and her two sons were forced into the hotel after being evicted from their last apartment.

With her new COVID relief aid, this single mom starts apartment hunting tomorrow -- hoping a landlord is willing to take a chance on her.

"I'm just hoping (a landlord) is hungry enough for money. With so many people not being able to pay rent, they might want to just get some money in their pocket and let me slide, even with an eviction (on my credit)," Johnson said.

After our story with Johnson aired last week, she got a first-hand taste of the goodwill of ABC11 viewers.

"Actually, I got quite a few calls with donations, cash donations. And then I got a call from an investor who hired me for two jobs," Johnson said. "I absolutely said yes. No question about it."

Employed again and eager for a new start there is gratitude tonight from Star Johnson. She's even grateful for the cramped quarters of this economy hotel that kept a roof over the family's head -- even when Johnson couldn't afford to pay for it.

"(The hotel) pressed me but they were very understanding," she said. "And ever since my story aired, they never asked for money. And I just got the bill today."

And about that hotel bill -- Wake County's homeless prevention program called Wake Prevent is going to be able to help pay that. ABC11 inquired about Johnson's case in our original story to see if Wake Prevent would be able to help her. There were some issues at first and it wasn't clear. But those problems have been resolved according to Johnson. She says Wake Prevent told her that the program will cover $750 of her family's hotel costs.

Star's first day at her brand new job is Thursday.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.