Join us on March 11 for Avivo Night of Champions, with featured speaker Andrew Zimmern, inspiring stories, musical guests, and more! Register now

Rhonda and Casey find housing and new chance at life

It was late May, 2020, just a few days after the murder of George Floyd. Tensions were rising in Minneapolis. Rhonda and Casey were residents of a homeless encampment just two miles away, sharing a tent at the Sabo Bridge encampment. Uncertainty at the encampment was high.

“That afternoon, our outreach team heard that in a matter of hours law enforcement was going to be clearing out the encampment,” shares Emily Bastian, Avivo’s vice president of ending homelessness. “Our team had called a couple hotels… two of which gave overwhelming, generous responses to temporarily housing the individuals.”

“Our team had called a couple hotels… two of which gave overwhelming, generous responses to temporarily housing the individuals.”

“I was part of the team at the Sabo encampment the night that it was evacuated, and everyone was checked in to a hotel,” shares Rachel Silver, Rhonda’s case manager. “The Rhonda I met on that day in June was a person who had spent a long time living in a state of perpetual crisis… she was most concerned with how to live day to day.”

Rhonda and Casey had been together for years — but hadn’t experienced anything like the combined forces of a pandemic and social unrest. Together, they were invited to become two of more than 70 people evacuated that day to enter Avivo’s new Hotels To Home program.

“At first I didn’t know how serious the virus was,” recalls Rhonda, who discovered that she has an underlying condition that makes her more susceptible to COVID-19. “When I first met Avivo at the Tent City, they explained the program and I met my case manager,” shares Rhonda. “They practically answered my prayers… I thought I’d just be homeless forever.”

“When I first met Avivo at the Tent City, they explained the program and I met my case manager,” shares Rhonda. “They practically answered my prayers… I thought I’d just be homeless forever.”

As Rhonda’s housing case manager, Rachel knew she needed to develop trust and find Rhonda housing quickly. With Rachel’s help, Rhonda was able to find permanent housing in less than a week, and Casey’s housing case manager found him housing shortly after that.

Since then, Casey has been able to find occasional work, and has hopes to advance his skills and find regular employment.  Rhonda and Casey have been able to spend quality time together in a quiet, safe environment.

“Avivo’s done a lot for me. I appreciate it,” shares Casey. “It’s nice to know you’ve got someone who cares, you know?”

“I was worried before I had housing,” shares Rhonda. “Avivo helped me a lot… My luck has changed.”