'Totally grateful’: Family living in SUV now staying in hotel after community support

HOUSTON – After seven months of sleeping in a car, Maria Baez and her son will finally have beds to sleep in tonight.

“It’s incredible because for seven months we didn’t see the light,” Baez said.

On Monday night, KPRC 2 shared the story of the Houston mother who said she fell behind on bills and lost her job in the middle of the pandemic. Shelters wouldn’t accept the family dogs and Maria said that she couldn’t part with them so the family has been living out their SUV. Her 16-year-old son was completing virtual classwork in the backseat of the car.

Since the report aired, Maria said she has been inundated by the generous offers from others. Houstonians have called and reached out, offering to provide food, shelter and gas.

ORIGINAL STORY: Mother, son, their dogs forced to live in SUV after losing job during pandemic

One Houston area businessman is giving back and challenging Houston to help out too.

“Maria I’d like to donate a check to you for $2,000 for living expenses, rent and your animals. I do not want to separate your animals,” said businessman Randy Hartley.

And he is challenging Houston to step up and donate.

“I donated $2,000 and if we raise another $1,000 or more through your story then I’m going to match it with an additional thousand dollars which I think we can,” Hartley said.

Rose Perez said that she felt compelled to stop by Maria’s car and offer assistance after she saw the report online.

“I just felt like this was pretty in-depth compared to the things that some of us parents think are big struggles for us,” Perez said. “I wanted to invite them to my home or make them something to eat.”

The Harris County Sheriffs Office stepped in to help in a big way. HCSO has helped facilitate temporary housing for Maria and her and their animals and the family will make the move on Tuesday morning. They helped get her to a hotel for the next several weeks.

Maria Baez is just overwhelmed with the love and support from the Houston Community.

“I’m the most grateful person in the world. Anything good happens to me, anything any kindness, the smallest or whatever, I am totally grateful,” Maria said.

You can donate to Maria Baez’s GoFundMe account here.

People have donated gift cards for groceries and dog food for her two dogs Sugar and Bobby.

“This is just unbelievable. This is unbelievable because it’s been seven months and like nobody knew about us. We felt like we were forgotten,” Baez said.

She said she is so grateful for the help she’s already received from so many people.

Her first priority now is making sure her son gets through his online schooling and finishes high school. The other priority is finding work.

“The other thing is finding a job to keep the apartment finding a job to support my son and my dogs. Hoping in the future we don’t get in this situation again,” Baez said.

About the Author:

Emmy-winning journalist. Inquisitive. Sparkle enthusiast. Coffee-fueled, with a dash of sass.