Earlier this month in Durham, North Carolina, Moshimalee Johnson was desperate after a year that began with a broken down van. Last year her unreliable 2002 Mercury Villager broke down again. She was using it to drive herself to the home healthcare job she worked where she was earning $10 per hour. A single mother with five children, she was working and getting assistance for housing. Unable to afford the necessary repairs, Johnson took public transportation, which made her late for work numerous times. She was then fired from her job.
Without income, Johnson fell behind on rent on the subsidized housing she was living in and was evicted. Even though she was getting some assistance from her children’s father, it was still not enough to get them a home. Late last year, she moved in with her mother and reached out to numerous agencies for help. The Department of Social Services simply referred her to homeless shelters, all of which were full. She then reached out to a rescue mission run by a faith-based nonprofit. She was also turned down there because of the requirement that she not work for six months, something she could not do.
Then in April, tragedy struck.