Around the same time last week, Ebony Rogers was facing homelessness and had to tell her six children that Christmas had been canceled this year, after Harrisburg Codes officials said her rental home was uninhabitable.
Then the Harrisburg community responded by donating more than $ 23,000 into a GoFundMe to help Rogers and his children, ages 16, 15, 15, 14, 14 and 9, get back on their feet. Rogers said the new plan is to buy a house. The initial fundraising goal was $ 5,000.
âI promise you I didn’t expect GoFundMe to go crazy like this,â she told PennLive in a phone interview. âI am more than grateful. “
Rogers worked this week to get the rest of the family’s belongings out of their home at 1917 Regina Street and put them in a storage unit. Their couch, end tables and some of the kids’ beds will need to be donated because they’re too big, Rogers said.
A Harrisburg-based social services organization focused on addressing homelessness and poverty hosted the family in a hotel for about 30 days. After she finishes moving her belongings from her old home, Rogers said she plans to examine homes on the market. She also signed up for owner counseling courses.
Last week, the Harrisburg Codes Bureau told Rogers that she and her children had to leave their three- and five-story home after authorities discovered the family were using heaters to compensate for heaters that were barely working. The house also suffered major water leaks that caused the kitchen ceiling to collapse just before Thanksgiving.
“We had no choice but to put up given the concern for the safety of tenants and the creation of a liability issue for the city in the event of misfortune,” said code administrator Dave Patton. âThis kind of situation is one of the most difficult we face. The possible relocation of occupants is an issue we take very seriously. “
Rogers, the children, and their two cats settled into their hotel and were overwhelmed by an influx of food donations – so many that Rogers had to turn some people away.
âWe’re super full here, I couldn’t stand it,â she said.
One of his children’s preschool teachers gave Rogers a $ 500 gift card to Target. The Downtown Daily Bread – a Harrisburg homeless shelter where Rogers works – along with his other employer, Clark Resources, also donated to the family.
Rogers was initially more concerned with her 16-year-old son, who has autism and will only eat foods with certain textures. But other families with autistic children have offered advice and delivered their favorite snacks. Another member of the community brought them a griddle, Rogers said.
As a community member and owner of the children’s entertainment business, Ebony’s Magic Brush, Rogers has been active over the years in volunteering in Harrisburg. Many people or organizations she has helped have called in recent days to offer their support.
âThere was a wave of support, I didn’t expect it to be that big,â Rogers said. âI do so many things in the city, I can’t even remember those things people call to thank me. “
Rogers said she has been speaking candidly about housing in Harrisburg for years and hopes her story has opened the eyes of others to the issue.
âIt’s crazy how many people have shared their horror stories with the owners,â she said. “I am grateful that they feel confident enough to share this with me.”
Those interested in helping Rogers can make a donation GoFundMe.