Editor's note: This piece originally appeared on New America's Weekly Wonk. Learn more about Helen Seide and other successful graduates of Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission Family Self-Sufficiency program in this video.
It should’ve been a fresh start for Helen Seide. It was 2001, and she had finally escaped her abusive marriage. But as her relationship dissolved, her finances, too, collapsed like a house of cards: Seide, suddenly a single working parent with three young daughters, couldn’t afford her rent and lost her apartment. A hotel became their temporary home as Seide struggled to support her family on her earnings as a hospital secretary. But the late shifts were hard to balance with her children’s day care. Her paychecks shrank. They needed help.
After months in the hotel, followed by another two years in transitional housing, that help came. A voucher for rental assistance allowed her family to move to their own apartment in Montgomery County, Maryland—a first step on their move out of poverty. Today, Seide is a proud homeowner with a stable job as a medical coder. Her oldest, now 17, is on track to attend college next year.