Homelessness Prevented for Father and Young Son by Quick Center Intervention

“My son and I were almost on the streets. I didn’t know where to turn. The Harriett Buhai Center provided me and my son hope for a better life.”

After losing his job, Carols* could only find temporary work to support himself and his young son, Robert. His unemployment benefits were exhausted. His savings were gone.  Then a job opportunity arose out of state. They could live with Carlos’ parents. His son would have his own room and could attend school close to home. It was a lifeline.

But Carlos couldn’t say “yes”.

Although his son lived with him, Carlos was unable to move to another state without court permission. The child’s mother had given Carlos their son to take care of but she would not agree to the move.

Going to court on his own was daunting and would take a long time. The day Carlos sought aid at a food bank, he found a flyer for the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law—and the help that he so desperately needed.

“The other places, no one got back to me,” Carlos said. “I was relieved that I found the Harriett Buhai Center. From my first appointment I was treated with respect and understanding. The Center immediately realized how urgent my situation was. Everyone showed great concern for my son and me.”

“It was plain to see how much he cared about his son and wanted to do the best that he could for him,” said Buhai Center Staff Attorney Pablo Schlueter-Corey. “Carlos needed permission to leave the state. Otherwise he might be charged with kidnapping.”

Carlos was in a tough position. “They were close to being homeless,” Pablo said, “We had to go in and convince the judge that it was now or never to move.” Just weeks later, the resulting temporary orders, now made permanent, allowed Carlos to take his son out of California.

Today, Carlos has a job, has sole legal and primary physical custody and is settled with his son. “We are doing better day by day,” Carlos said. “We’re in a safe neighborhood and he’s happy at his new school.”

To facilitate communication between Robert and his mother, Carlos provides his son with a laptop and cell phone, and set up email and Skype accounts. “My son loves his mom,” he said simply. “I want him to have a relationship with her.”

When Carlos talks about the Buhai Center, his voice shakes with emotion. “I’m so grateful to them. There are no words to express it. So much has happened for us because of their help.”

*The client’s name and some other details have been changed to protect his identity.