Linda Finds a New Life, Home, and Friend

For Linda, homelessness has been a reoccurring part of life. Along with her husband, Charlie, Linda has seen much of the United States and often lived in cars, camp sites, and hotel rooms. Never afraid to work, both Linda and Charlie frequently were employed as housekeepers and caretakers often securing room and board along the way and even living in an apartment in Livingston for over four years.

Although unusual to many, it was their life, their choice and their adventure. Work ran out and they decided to leave Montana. Their “adventure” continued for a period of time but eventually Linda and Charlie found themselves back in Montana. Happy to be back, they were looking for work and ready to rebuild a life here in Bozeman. Then tragedy struck — Charlie experienced a sudden and fatal heart attack. Emergency responders paid for Linda to stay in a hotel for one night. She recalls sitting alone in the room sorting Charlie’s belongings. Knowing she couldn’t carry his pack along with hers she made the tough choice to donate or toss almost everything.

With no money, no housing, and no Charlie, Linda was referred  to the Hope House by Warming Center staff.  The Hope House is part of the Gallatin Mental Health center and offered her help to cope with her loss. “The Warming Center was the place where I began rebuilding my life,” said Linda. “They connected me with Amelia in the Housing First Program and that is when everything started to change for the better.”

Prior to her husband’s death, Linda and Charlie had been meeting weekly with Amelia Musgjerd, HRDC’s Housing First Program Coordinator to address all barriers to finding housing. Following the loss of her husband, Linda found her way to HRDC’s Amos House which offered her a place to stay as she transitioned from homelessness to stable housing. Her first priority after moving in and getting settled was to find employment. Amos House offered her stability, a bed to sleep in, access to showers and laundry, and helped her get herself together and back to work. Linda lived at Amos House for several months receiving case management from Amos House staff consistently.

Once employed and able to establish a savings account Linda also worked on paying off past debit, credit card bills, and deal with medical issues related to a bad back (a result of many years of work as a housekeeper). The time had come for the next step – securing affordable rental housing and making that final transition to self sufficiency. An apartment with a rental subsidy became available and because she had established a good landlord reference at Amos House, positive credit history, and a stable job, she was offered the apartment.

“The move was a big deal for Linda and honestly for me as well”, said Musgjerd. We spent a lot of time working on establishing a new life for Linda and the move was a celebration of success and some well deserved good luck. With the competitive and expensive housing market in Bozeman it can take months or even a year to find housing,” added Musgjerd. Linda has enjoyed her apartment for almost 1 1/2 years.

She thinks of Charlie daily and misses him but is happy with her new life and stability. “Charlie always dreamed of me going to school so I didn’t have to keep cleaning rooms,” she said. “I am now taking classes on-line, and have a pet gerbil, a great place to live, and a friend like Amelia! HRDC was my safety net, I had nowhere else to turn and I am grateful.”

Housing First and Amos House are two of the HRDC’s Housing Programs that help our customers find housing that is safe and affordable. These programs depend on community donations in order to provide the case management support that connected Linda to Amelia.