After years of struggles, DC mother and special needs son find new home in time for Christmas

- A D.C. family is spending their first Christmas in their own home after being displaced for years.

A mother and her adult son who has special needs said they fell through the cracks, on hard times and would still be there if it wasn’t for some real-life angels.

After losing her home and dealing with the loss of her mother to cancer, Cynthia Hairston said enough was enough and she turned to a decades-old organization for help.

“If anything happens to me, I know he's okay. That's it. That's my only dream,” said Hairston, referring to her 26-year-old son, Anthony, who has autism.

Since 2010, Anthony and his mother were displaced from their home after the family defaulted on a reverse mortgage.

“From DC General [homeless shelter] last Christmas to here this Christmas, it's amazing,” she said.

Hairston said having their own home is nothing short of a gift from real-life angels at Thrive DC.

“I'm telling you, just grateful, nobody but God,” she told us. “I'm just grateful because I know where we were this time last year,” said Hairston.

“We can't help everyone but I think Cynthia said it best – ‘We will try,’” said Alicia Horton, executive director of Thrive DC. “Anybody who comes through our doors will be assisted. We are what we call a low barrier program, so all you have to do is show up.”

The organization is nearly four decades old and helps homeless families get back on track.

“I think Cynthia's situation becomes atypical when we bring in a special needs child who the system is not equipped to deal with,” said Horton. “So when she's trying to get in shelters for instance, shelters won't allow an adult child and their parent to be together even if the adult child needs parental supervision.”

Hairston and her son were staying in hotels, homes and some shelters until a helping hand emerged for those who needed it the most.

“Don't be scared to ask for help,” said Hairston. “You can't do it all alone.”

Thrive DC said no income requirement is needed for those who need help.

For Cynthia Hairston, the biggest challenge was finding a shelter that accepted her and her son.

Thrive DC said most of the shelters reportedly do not allow an adult child of the opposite sex and their parent to stay together.

The organization was able to place Hairston and her son in low-cost housing they can afford.


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