CINCINNATI, Ohio (March 16, 2022) — When the man who Lashawn Coates had spent 22 years with died in April 2021 after contracting COVID-19, her world was turned upside down.
“I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t pay my rent. I was in distress,” she says.
Lashawn, too, was diagnosed with COVID. She did not have to be hospitalized, but she missed many hours of work at her retail job as she recovered and as her companion fought for his life.
Feeling immense stress after her companion’s death, Lashawn immediately had to shift her attention to her past-due rent. Her sister suggested she call United Way’s 211 Helpline.
She spoke to a United Way care coordinator for more than an hour. “He was sympathetic. That man is a really good person. He really helped me a lot.”
The care coordinator referred her to a United Way community partner that helps with COVID-related rent arrearages. But Lashawn, 49, who describes herself as “old school,” says she was uncomfortable filling out the online application.
“The (care coordinator) said, ‘If you’ve got an hour and a half, call me back at such and such time, and I’ll walk you through it.’ And he did just that. He made sure all my information was correct. He was amazing. And really polite.”
In the weeks that followed, as Lashawn waited to hear whether her application was accepted, she contacted the care coordinator several times. “He let me know it’s a process, and to hold on.”
In time, she received word that her application had been processed and her rent had been paid. Now that she’s working again, “I’ve been paying it ever since.”