Tricia Tran, a resource specialist with the Primavera Foundation program Family Pathways, helps participants overcome significant life challenges – unemployment, a recent eviction, a felony conviction, no savings.
The program started out as the Greyhound Family Shelter in 2007 and eventually became Family Pathways. Since 2019, Family Pathways has helped more than 400 people.
Odalis Sabori and her partner, James Cowan, are among the seven families Tricia is currently helping.
The couple was referred to Primavera from Youth on Their Own, a Primavera partner that helps youth in need.
Odalis, 24, and James, 28, met as teenagers and have been a couple since. Both come from challenging family backgrounds that included drug addiction and homelessness. They have two children, ages 3 and 1.
The most recent time they found themselves without a place to sleep, they had their toddler and an infant in tow. They landed in a shelter at first, and James and Odalis knew they needed a better plan.
When they came to Primavera, Tricia acted quickly. She collaborated with City of Tucson staff that was managing the shelter where the family was living, and she connected Odalis and James into Family Pathways.
Family Pathways is set up to help with emergency housing for families just like theirs, Tricia said.
The program gets families into their own apartments or homes, and the arrangement is considered a shelter.
“It’s on a temporary basis since it’s a short-term lease, but the purpose is to eventually transition the family in place and not uproot the children from their community or school,” said her supervisor, Reyna Leon, Primavera’s director of shelter services.
Family Pathways’ 90-day program covers a deposit, three months of rent, utilities and other associated fees. The program is set up for families of any configuration, and Primavera does its best to house as many families as possible, Reyna explained.
“Staff works intensely with every household, because three months is not enough time for families to address all of their difficulties,” Reyna said. “The market makes it even more difficult to find suitable, safe and affordable housing for these families.”
Most landlords are not willing to work with housing programs, especially ones that transition families in place, she said.
Once families are connected with Pathways, they go through an intake to see what barriers are blocking them from stable, permanent housing.
“The hope is that, by the end of the third month, they will be able to sign or take over the lease or find another place,” Tricia said.
Tricia connects with program participants often, urging them to follow up on work leads and take other critical steps toward independence, such as learning to save money and to plan ahead.
Odalis is currently working as a nurse technician at Northwest Medical Center and has plans to attend nursing school.
“We’ve both had pasts that hurt us,” she said, “and we don’t want that for our little ones.”
James is helping with the children as he plans his next step.
“We are teaching ourselves,” he said of life skills they weren’t taught growing up. “We are trying not to make the same mistakes.”