Homeless single moms find hope at Grace Place; Affordable housin - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Homeless single moms find hope at Grace Place; Affordable housing remains a challenge

Amanda Denson, a mother of three, is beginning the process of starting over. (WSMV) Amanda Denson, a mother of three, is beginning the process of starting over. (WSMV)

A nonprofit that helps homeless single mothers is expanding, and it's a sign of the need for affordable housing in Sumner County.

Grace Place Ministry started in 2015 as a program that allows mothers to live in a house short-term while they learn job and money skills to help them get back on their feet. Since then, the founder said they've had to add a longer-term program while the families wait for housing options to open up.

News 4 sat down with Amanda Denson, a mother of three, who is beginning the process of starting over.

"Because of my health problems, I couldn't keep my job, and because I couldn't keep my job, I couldn't afford my rent. Being a single mom, it was hard to do," Denson said.

It's been a tough six months for Denson.

"Staying from place to place, (I) didn't know where I was going to lay my head at night with my kids," Denson said.

But her 1-year-old son Kingston and two older daughters gave her strength. She said it was hard to admit she needed help.

"But I really sucked it up and done what I had to do to better my kids. It wasn't about me anymore. It was about my kids," Denson said.

Denson stays at Grace Place in Hendersonville. The nonprofit helps homeless single mothers take back their independence, first with life skills and then with landing a clerical or customer service related job.

"It's really difficult for our low income wage earners to find housing here that doesn't put them in the ratio of being overburdened for rent," said Desneige VanCleve, the founder of Grace Place Ministry.

Getting moms like Denson into their own apartment remains a challenge. Affordable housing options are tight.

"We have partnerships with landlords and private apartment complexes, and that's making that a little more feasible. There's definitely a lot more work to be done," VanCleve said.

The 32-year-old mom knows her time there is temporary, so she's preparing.

"(I'm) saving money, work all I can to save the money to get it because I know it's not cheap. And nobody's going to just hand it out to you," Denson said.

She is willing to become someone others can rely on.

"I will have my own place, and hopefully, I can help people and guide them, so they won't be in this situation that I was in," Denson said.

Grace Place has served 32 families since it started in 2015. All of the mothers work full-time jobs while they stay in the house.

If you know someone you needs help and want to apply, click here for more information.

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