HOUSTON – Maria Baez is a Houston area mother desperately trying to hold it together for her son, herself and their two dogs.
Holding it together in the face of losing her job during the pandemic and having to live for the past seven months in their SUV seeking free meals, gas money and other help from strangers.
Maria’s 16-year-old son recently started online learning and logging on for classes from parking lots during the day.
“What really worries me is my son,” she said. “I mean, it’s kind of a punishment. It’s kind of a punishment for anybody living like this.”
After suffering health problems, falling behind on rent, and getting evicted in February Maria says she lost her job cleaning houses.
Then: the COVID-19 crisis hit.
“It was difficult for me to find a job. In my desperation I started selling food,” she said fighting back tears. “It was really difficult because it’s really difficult to be cooking all the food, preparing everything, then go to sell on the streets.”
What’s been extremely difficult is not being able to part with their dogs Sugar and Bobby. Homeless shelters won’t allow them and animal shelters say Maria would have to surrender the dogs permanently. Letting them loose on their own -- for her -- just isn’t an option.
“How could we go and get the roof, and get the bed, and get the food and just thinking, ‘Where is Bobby? Where is Sugar?’” she said.
With food, health, safety, and shelter becoming greater issues by the day Maria Baez is looking for a quiet, healthy, and safe place to turn. For her son, herself, and their two dogs.
“It’s like I’m trapped,” she said. “I’m trapped. I don’t know what to do.”
Baez said what she needs the most to try to find a job and get back on her feet is a place where she can temporarily house her two dogs to allow her to look for and start a job so she can find a permanent roof for her son and their pets.
Editor’s note: KPRC 2 has received dozens of responses to this story from people looking to help, and that information has been passed on to the family. Thank you to everyone who has reached out. You can see an update on those efforts here.