D.C. Families Get Fresh Start Through Aarons, City

Aarons employees prepare to load more furniture to fill 28 apartments donated by the company to previously homeless residents moving into apartments in southeast Washington.  Photo by Diandra Bolton, Howard University News Service.

WASHINGTON – Some families in Ward 8 are celebrating new beginnings this week.  Princess Alleyen, whose family has been struggling with homelessness and unemployment, is one of them.

Alleyen’s is one of 28 formerly homeless families who received a home stocked with new furniture, including leather sofas, love seats, beds and tables, thanks to a collaboration between the city and Aarons, the nation’s largest appliance and furniture rental company.

“I am so grateful,” Alleyen said during a press conference Monday announcing the gift.  “This will be the spark my family and others need to get ahead in our lives.”

Through Jobs Have Priority, which helps find D.C. residents find employment, and its support from Aarons

Princess Alleyen, holding her 19-month old daughter, said she is elated
to be moving into a fully furnished apartment.   Photo by Diandra Bolton,
Howard University News Service.

Furniture and Mayor Muriel Bowser, Alleyen, her partner, Jason Tyson, and their two sons, ages 19-months and 11, can now look back on more than a year of being homeless  instead of it being a part of their everyday reality.

Jobs Have Priority provides apartment-style shelter for families who have experienced homelessness, many of which are single-parent households caring for two to three young children, Bowser said. Many have at least one family member with a mental, developmental or physical disability, she added.

At an Aarons community outreach event Monday yesterday, 100 Aarons employees installed more than $60,000 worth of new living room and bedroom furniture in units at the apartment complex at 2601 Naylor Road in southeast Washington..

 Robert Kamerschen, Aarons executive vice president, said the company plans many more like projects in Washington and other cities.

“Aarons believes that caring starts with respect,” Kamerschen said during the press conference.  “This is one of our company’s guiding principles.

“This donation and our efforts across D.C. demonstrate a civic commitment that began with our founding more than 60 years ago and endures today thanks to the dedication and big hearts of our associates.”

Tyson expressed his surprise and appreciation for Aarons’ gift.

 “My family and I weren’t expecting much from Aarons,” said Tyson, who is a courtesy driver assisting low-income families with their transportation needs thanks to Jobs Have Priority.   “So, to see what they gave us really is moving, and exciting.”

Alleyen said she is still looking for a job through Jobs Have Priority and is working with the program to learn how to budget her finances and manage a household.  Because of a history of trauma with sexual, psychological, and physical abuse drive, she said she is getting assistance through a case manager.

Aaron’s involvement helps drive forward the Jobs Have Priority mission, Bowser said.

“Every single resident in our city deserves a safe and dignified home, and Aaron’s is supporting us in achieving this goal by supplying high-quality furniture for families,” she said. “The goal is to do this in every ward in the district before 2016 is over.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser, center, Ward 8 Councilwoman LaRuby May, left, and Aarons Executive Vice President Robert Kamerschen discuss the company's service projects in Washington.  Photo by Diandra Bolton, Howard University News Service.