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Human Services Client Success Stories

Posted on: February 24, 2023

Rental Assistance Saves Newborn, Parents from Living in Their Car

Father and daughter

Justin was facing eviction. He worked in the fitness industry, so due to a downturn in clients from the pandemic, he was not making as much income as he had been. Money was tight and to make the situation even more complex – he and his wife were expecting a baby. This is when Justin applied for rental assistance on behalf of his family at the City of Chandler. Time went by as Justin waited for word on his application for rental assistance. He and his pregnant wife were now locked out of their apartment due to nonpayment of rent. Justin, his wife, and now their newborn baby were forced to live in their car. Having a newborn is stressful enough – but having a newborn baby on a limited income with no place to call home was very tough for Justin. This is when the City of Chandler CARES team called Maricopa County’s Human Services Department. The Community Services Division (CSD) took on the case. As the team that manages the County’s rental and utility assistance program – they wanted to do everything possible to help Justin and his family into a better situation. 

Staff immediately expedited Justin’s application. Time was of the essence as the back rent, court fees, and current rent all had to be paid by March 23 – or the apartment complex management was going to not allow Justin and his family back on site and dispose of the household items and property Justin had to leave behind. It was March 22, so that meant Justin’s future came down to this one day.  

The application was processed and a check was provided for pickup. Staff members Charlene Gardner and Angelica Penuelas worked together to hand-deliver the check and get it to Justin to ensure he had what he needed to return his family to their home. 

When Justin and his wife received the check for their rent, they looked at it and both cried. “This was extremely impactful to my team,” said Angelica Penuelas, Supervisor for the Community Services Division of the Human Services Department. “We saw firsthand how we were impacting the community we serve.” 

Justin, his wife, and his newly born child are sleeping in their own beds in their apartment today thanks to the caring CSD team. Since the pandemic began, Maricopa County has helped more than 8,400 households with more than $63 million in rental assistance payments. There are 8,399 more people like Justin out in the community whose lives have been changed for the better through the work of the entire CSD team.  

This is one of the many ways that the caring staff of Maricopa County’s Human Services Department is making a meaningful difference in the lives of county residents. Learn more about the services and support available through the Community Services Division at

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