part of the family

A Helping Hand in a Time of Need

Assisi Homes of Illinois is a world away from where Mamie first called home. Originally a citizen of Liberia, Mamie fled civil war in 1990 for the Ivory Coast and later moved to Ghana in search of safety and a better life. In 2006, Mamie and her nine-year-old son, Peyo, received asylum in the U.S. through the United Nations.

Mamie and Peyo moved to America without friends or extended family and settled in Wheaton, IL. Mamie found work as a hotel housekeeper and took coding classes at College of DuPage. When Mamie was looking for affordable housing, her friend recommended Assisi Homes of Illinois. “I heard such great things,” she recalls. 

Mamie’s early impression of Assisi Homes proved correct. “Every time I had a question or an issue, the Mercy Housing staff was there for me,” she notes. “It’s been such a great blessing.” With access to high-quality, affordable housing, the family has done well to make the most of their opportunities. In fact, today, Mamie works in customer service, and Peyo attends college in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, the pandemic threatened the family’s hard-won stability. As a result of economic turmoil, Mamie was temporarily furloughed from her job, leading to a loss of income and the inability to pay her rent. Moreover, she says that requirements to self-isolate at home have brought back traumatic memories of times when she hid as a child during war. “It reminded me of what we went through in my home country,” she explains. “It’s been sad.” 

Thankfully, Mamie was able to receive emergency assistance through the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, which provided Mercy Housing Lakefront with a grant to address emergency needs, including short-term rental assistance for Illinois residents living outside of Cook County. Receiving this unexpected support has helped to ease the fears and anxieties of many residents like Mamie. “It was like a weight off my shoulders,” she says. “Like winning the lottery.” 

With this help, Mamie’s mental health has improved, allowing her to focus on things that bring her joy, including attending virtual church services and connecting with friends on the phone while apart.

For Mamie, Assisi Homes of Illinois offers much more than housing — it fosters a sense of community. “I’m not just a renter here. I feel like I’m part of a family.” 

Mercy Housing Lakefront is grateful for emergency help from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s MKE Responds Fund, The John and Kathleen Schreiber Foundation, the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund, TCF Foundation, and many other generous individuals and organizations who provided food, short-term rental assistance, technology, cleaning supplies, and PPE to keep residents healthy and safe through the pandemic.