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“The rental assistance was the most exhilarating thing that ever happened to me, other than giving birth to my children.”

In March 2021, Danella Hendrix found out that she was pregnant with twins. Already a mother of five, she understood the ups and downs of pregnancy. However, she didn’t anticipate the complications that would come with twins.

“Due to complications, a stress test had to be performed and, subsequently, I had to take my maternity leave early,” shares Danella. But Danella’s sick days were few and far between. She had planned on accumulating enough paid time off for maternity leave, but had not planned for extended maternity leave.

Off work without pay, she paid her rent in December, right before the twins were born. But the check bounced.

In January 2022, Danella received notice: She and her family were at risk of eviction. She tried everything, including applying for loans, but was consistently denied.

Despite the circumstances, she was filled with hope and prayers. Late one afternoon, she started to Google “rental assistance programs.” The first link was to the Community Advocates website, whose tagline read “Where meeting basic human needs inspires hope.”

Danella immediately called. And then, she met Denise.

“Denise told me everything I needed to know and do in order to get assistance,” Danella says. “I was appalled because I clearly had no other resort, having run out of options on how to pay my balance and current rent.”

Behind the scenes, Denise was advocating relentlessly on Danella’s behalf by acting as a mediator between Danella and her landlord.

A few days later, Danella received a phone call from Denise. Community Advocates assisted Danella with the two months of back rent, but also provided her with three months of future rent to give her greater stability.

“The rental assistance was the most exhilarating thing that ever happened to me, other than giving birth to my children,” says Danella. “It was a relief, a joyful blessing, and to this day, I am truly thankful for the contribution from Community Advocates – and Denise most of all who did all the paperwork and remained in communication with myself and my landlord. It was extremely scary. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. This program was a complete life-saver. My family and I would have been homeless if Denise and Community Advocates wouldn’t have picked up the phone.”

Danella took the first step to ask for help. Denise and Community Advocates answered the call. Now, Danella and her family are doing well.

Nearly a year and a half later, she has paid all her rental payments on time, and she has not needed additional assistance.

The Siemer Institute helps fund Community Advocates, which is a service provider of the United Way of Milwaukee and Waukesha County.