BEAVERTON, Ore. — Christina Cioffi, her boyfriend and two young children became homeless after getting evicted back in June, but things turned around for them and they found a place to live just in time for Thanksgiving.
It wasn’t until months later that Cioffi, with the help of doctors, zeroed in on the root cause of her struggles.
“I ended up having a brain disorder called bipolar, unknowingly. And in that, started gambling, was very, very depressed. And the rest is history,” she said Saturday, sitting in the family’s new apartment.
Her diagnosis came while the family was staying in a shelter. They’d also been crashing in hotels. Some nights, Cioffi would drive her kids to her mom’s house in Rockaway Beach.
“And I would come back for work and I’d sleep in the car, because I'd work two nights in a row,” she said. “And then [my son] kept asking me, ‘Mom can we go home now?’
“Sorry, I don't want to cry. Because when he's asking me, 'Can we go home?' I'd have to look at him and say, ‘We don't have a home now.’”
Cioffi said the family’s luck changed when she managed to land a spot in a 15-hour “Rent Well” course through the nonprofit Community Action.
The teacher of the course was also a case manager for Family Promise of Beaverton, which places homeless families in empty rooms and spaces in churches, rec centers and other facilities.
“A lot of us in the community were done talking about the issue, and we were ready to step up and do something about the issue,” said executive director Jolene Guptill in 2018.
By November, Cioffi was taking medication for her bipolar disorder and working two new jobs.
Then she learned an apartment had become available for her, her boyfriend, her 4-year-old son Joshua and her 2-year-old daughter Hope.
The family moved in on Thanksgiving day.
“We get to parent the way we need to parent, and the kids get to run around and have fun,” said Cioffi, sitting in her new living room. “It's a great feeling because now we don't have to struggle.”