New program helps pregnant women who are homeless

- Bringing a child into the world can be hard under the best circumstances. But some women face it alone and homeless.

There’s now a new community living program called In My Shoes in Dallas that’s providing support specifically for people in such situations. It’s the only one like it in Dallas.

FOX 4’s Jenny Anchondo spoke with one of the home’s first residents. Ima lost her job in June and ran out of money. She’s now 7 months pregnant and homeless.

“I always tell people to count their blessings because you don’t ever know what could happen to you,” she said.

She was preparing to stay with family in Houston and to have the baby there when Hurricane Harvey hit. Ima had nowhere to go.

For months she stayed in a shelter. Then she found out about In My Shoes.

“I felt like it was a rainbow after the storm. It was the answer to a lot of prayers I had,” she said. “It’s been a godsend, peace.”

Ima is one of the first residents in the home. It’s a safe place for pregnant women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Executive Director Maria Eichhold said the live-in staff assists with getting the clients therapy, work and school support, parenting curriculum and goal-setting programs.

“We want to walk side-by-side with these women during this journey with their pregnancy. We might not know exactly what it's like to be in their shoes but we're going to join them at that moment as they walk in our house and walk with them,” Eichhold said.

The woman can stay until their babies are 9 months old. The ultimate goal is stability and a family unit.

“It’s providing some classes and counseling for them to help them untangle some of this knot or messiness that led them to this situation in the first place,” Eichhold said.

“It’s a blessing. Words can’t even begin to describe,” Ima said.

Ima already has a college degree and years of experience as a licensed insurance agent. She’s now working at a temp agency with a goal of getting her master’s degree.

In My Shoes requires clients to have 40 hours of “productivity” a week with 25 of that being at a job.

“We want them to get set up in a place with something that will be sustaining for the long term. What’s a job that will last for a while and help you move up?”Eichhold said.

In My Shoes is also helping with medial resources for Ima’s baby, which has already been diagnosed with spina bifida. Other clients are given information about adoption.

“There is a little bit of a stigma out there as an option for women. So we want to educate women and connect them to those resources when they show an interest in that,” the director said.

For Ima, the home is offering her another reason to stay positive.

“It’s a matter of my mindset. How do I look at my situation? Do I look at this in terms of oh no, I’m stuck her or do I look at this as a plan ahead in what I do going forward,” she said.

In My Shoes runs on private donations and grants. Volunteers are also need for home renovations, landscaping and class instruction.

For more information, visit www.liveinmyshoes.org

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