• Interview

“I Work as Hard as I Can”: Single Mom Challenges Stereotypes of Homelessness

“I’ve never been to jail. I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink. I don’t even go on dates. I sit at home, and I take care of my son, and I go to work. I work as hard as I can… I want people to know that being homeless isn’t always somebody’s fault.” Twenty-six-year-old single mother Alexis Gaines reflects on her experience being homeless with her 7-year-old son, Aiden, challenging the stereotypes of homelessness as self-inflicted.

Alexis opens up in this StoryCorps recording with her case manager, Tanya Mendenhall Mettlen of Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. For Alexis, seven years of homelessness were precipitated by her placement in foster care at age 13; the pregnancy that forced the straight-A student to drop out of high school; and a tolling illness that led to losing her job. Without family to turn to, she and her son ended up homeless — a position she never expected to find herself in.

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