Just before the pandemic, Sparkle, 44, and three of her children were living in a rented apartment on Chili Avenue. “It was rat and mouse infested. There were mouse droppings on hangers. They peed on everything,” Sparkle says. Her asthma worsened, her Afib (atrial fabulation) flared up. The family stayed about a year.

There were few alternatives. Sparkle eventually applied and was accepted into a downtown shelter. She and her children stayed there for about three months. Then they moved to a small apartment on Dodge Street. She didn’t know how long this situation would last. All of this moving around. This is no way to live.

But it’s the way so many people in Monroe County live every day. They hang on by a thread to any sort of housing option regardless of how shaky. The pandemic was an accelerant. Now, night after night, nearly 900 people find themselves sleeping in shelters or sleeping outdoors with little protection other than a doorway, a car, a bridge underpass. Learn more