Happiest City in the U.S.?

“It was nice to bring our baby to a home from the hospital instead of to our truck.”

On a Friday afternoon in October 2014, we received a phone call from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. They found a family of five with a pregnant mom living in a truck in a public park. We checked them into the Family Haven that evening.

Family Info:

  • Agbor (father)
  • Ndolo “Miriam” (mother)
  • Arrey-Michael (5 yr-old son)
  • Mayesseh (4 yr-old daughter)
  • Eyole (2 yr-old daughter)
  • Sofia (newborn 3-17-2015)

Agbor and Ndolo are originally from Cameroon, Africa. They came to the U.S. on the lottery system in 2009. They moved from the Family Haven into our Home Again (permanent supportive housing) program on Feb 10, 2015, before having their baby.

During their stay with us we were able to …

  • register their five year-old into kindergarten,
  • enroll the two younger children into daycare,
  • gain FL driver’s licenses for mom and dad,
  • secure full-time employment for dad,
  • obtain medical treatment for mom (she had none prior in her pregnancy), and
  • celebrate Thanksgiving & Christmas!

On April 14th Today.com posted an article online naming Northport-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida as the happiest city in the U.S., but according to recent articles by The New York Times and the Herald Tribune, children being raised in our county, Sarasota County, are at a significant disadvantage when compared to children growing up in the average U.S. county.

Sarasota’s ability to provide affordable housing is a major contributor to these issues we face as a community. One in every five families in Sarasota County are using half of their wages just to keep a roof over their head. Moreover, studies show that the median home value (up 6% from 2000) and cost of rental housing in the region continues to rise and become increasing unaffordable. With 14% of Sarasota and 23% of our county’s children living in poverty, the need for supportive affordable housing is greater than ever.

Here in Sarasota, homelessness is an epidemic felt by those who experience its pain, and by those who try to end it. At Harvest House, we believe that every family and individual deserves a chance. With the support of our donors, we are able to provide emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing for families and individuals, including case management and wrap-around services to assist them throughout their journey to an independent, sustainable lifestyle.