To Whom It May Concern:

For the sake of my and my children’s safety I would like my name kept confidential.

I am a single mom of two autistic children, ages 4 & 6. I was sexually assaulted earlier this year and I am currently 29 weeks pregnant and on bedrest for preeclampsia. My family and I were living in Idaho in a beautiful home, with a large yard, in one of the best school districts in the state. I had my own bakery and everything was going so beautifully before I was assaulted. We had a large loving cat and a Golden Retriever with the personality of Marmaduke.

The farther I got into the pregnancy the more threats put upon me by the father, eventually I had to make the hard decision to leave our happy home behind and move across the country. I was raised in the heart of Nashville, TN and I have family in the area. My pregnancy has not been taken well by my family, but I thought it would be best to be closer to them anyway.

When my family arrived in Tennessee, we had to stay in hotels, it was at this point I started applying for help – SNAP, ChildCare Vouchers, Smart Steps and calling the YWCA. On July 6th, the YWCA let me move in to their family shelter. The entire time I was there I had to continuously reapply for those benefits, the reasons I were denied for were “not being a Tennessee resident” despite my residency letter from the YWCA, they “won’t count my child care costs” because my business is “registered in Idaho so I am not working” despite the fact that I was working and moved my business to Tennessee (I’m not sure who doesn’t know what working remotely is but apparently no one at DHS lived through the pandemic) and despite showing them receipts for my childcare expenses. In addition they refused to count my business income (a negative number) because the address was listed in Idaho.

I contacted 8 different DHS workers, each one would request information/documents, I would send it to them and upload on the website, then I would never hear back. My follow up emails never received a reply, my phone calls were answered with “I can’t answer that, I am on the other side of the state and not in your county”.

After a month of living at the YWCA, I was referred to emergency Section 8, I sent in my application the following day. That was on August 4th 2022 – almost 8 weeks ago, I haven’t heard anything from them.

I had to legally change my entire name to protect my children which was an entire task and a half

At the beginning of September I was moved to Safe Haven Family Shelter, I was accepted to their rapid rehousing program. We have called nearly every apartment complex in the Nashville and Madison area trying to find a place, without avail so far.

Last week I spoke with someone again about my SNAP and Child Care Vouchers – they said I was denied for the same ridiculous reasons as above – none of which were valid.

I requested help directly from Bill Lee and Clarence Carter, specifically for my SNAP and Child Care Vouchers. This was the response I received:

Wrong department

Food stamp #: 615-313-5652 or 615-532-4000

EBT: 1-888-997-9444

P-EBT: 833-496-0661#3

This was the only response I received.

As a sexual assault victim who is currently pregnant with an extremely high risk pregnancy, who is disabled with two small children who are also disabled who are all living in a DV shelter- you would expect that we could get the bare minimum in food, childcare and housing – especially from a state that has abortions banned, but no. Bill Lee and Clarence Carter are happy to have me deliver a baby and bring her to a shelter where we can’t buy food and I don’t have childcare to be able to work.