Shara & Keda Williams

This story is part of a collection of stories under the series Voices of Acadia. Each story highlights the residents in one of Acadia’s units and how they came to call it home. To read more stories in this series, click here.

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“We had a condo apartment in Chelsea that we lived in for about six months before I got sick with Leukemia in 2013. I had to go in the hospital and that’s when everything fell apart. It was a market rent apartment so our rent couldn’t be adjusted and we lost the apartment within two months. When I got out of the hospital I stayed with my daughter for a while. Then she moved and that’s what made me go into the shelter.”

“One of the requirements in the shelter is that you had to sleep there for 30 days to prove you were homeless before they help you with services. After the 30 days, they have a program called rapid rehousing that they pay three months of your rent and 30 percent of your rent for two years so you can get back on your feet. After staying in the shelter for a month, we were able to do the rapid rehousing program. We thought we would only stay there for a few months.”

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“We would have been under a bridge somewhere if we didn’t have Pine Street Inn. It was a nice shelter - they kept it clean every day. We were grateful to be there, but it was a tough environment. There were a couple fights here and there amongst some women but that’s expected with 250 women all together. We grew up with eight other siblings so we were used to being around so many people and the fights that happen. But it’s never a good feeling not knowing who you’re lying next to. Of course, it’s uncomfortable because you want your own place anyways. A lot of the women came from horrific situations and had horrific stories. We formed a lot of friendships with the other women in there and the whole year and a half we were in there we didn’t have any troubles with any of the other ladies.” 

“We were in the shelter for six months before we found out about the Acadia lottery application. The application deadline was the end of July and we knew by August or September that we had won. It was a pretty quick process. We were supposed to move in November, but then we had to wait six months before we could move in because the workers at the gas company were on strike so the building didn’t have any gas.” 

“We were very lucky to win the lottery because we wanted to come back to Chelsea – we didn’t want to live anywhere else – and a lot of people don’t get to come back to the same place. We like Chelsea, our sister is down the street, I raised my daughter here and we’ve been here a while. We recently found out our mom and dad met in Chelsea – so maybe that’s why we’re drawn to this city!  We don’t want to live anywhere else. We always hoped to be residents of Chelsea again. It’s a blessing from God I say. I never win anything. We applied but didn’t think we’d hear back from them.”

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“Since moving into Acadia we are more stable now – drastically. It’s almost like a dream come true coming from that environment. To move into something brand new was exciting and just being able to get your life back on track again without 250 women sharing a shower. Luckily I was able to keep working, but I didn’t want anybody at work to know I was in the shelter.

Before when I used to see a homeless person I would say to myself ‘why don’t they get a job?’ ‘why don’t they do something with their life?’ but when you’re in that environment you understand – it’s tough. Now when I see a homeless person I have a lot of compassion for them – I can relate to them.”

“We both have the passion to open a homeless shelter. After having that experience I’d love to open a shelter and really take the time with individual people to understand their needs because each person’s life is different. It would be really cool if the shelter had different classes that catered to the different needs of the people who are in the shelter such as domestic violence or drug abuse.”