The Free Press, Mankato, MN

No Direction Home

December 22, 2013

No Direction Home, Day 3: Mankato family knows road to homelessness

Mankato family knows road to homelessness

MANKATO — For Scott Hieronimus and Tina Whitby, the journey to homelessness, they say, was built firmly on a foundation of bad luck.

“I went from losing my $50,000 a year job to being a temp,” Scott Hieronimus said.

He was a production specialist, someone who built testing stations for the products built at a company called Emerson.

“I lost that job when a lady accused me of looking at her inappropriately,” he said.

Around the same time, Tina lost her job at an assisted-living facility in Shakopee called Emerald Crest.

“I was at Emerald Crest for five years when I got let go,” she said.

They moved to St. Peter when Scott got a job at Alumacraft. But Scott lost that job, too.

“Five or six of us got let go the same day,” he said.

Then the real struggle began. And to ward off eviction, they started selling their stuff.

First it was Tina’s 2003 Ford Windstar van. Then Scott's shotgun. (The two are avid hunters and have a series of deer with impressive racks on the walls of their residence.) Then it was Scott's 1996 Chevy Silverado pickup. Then the boat. Then the Waverunner.

“We sold it all to avoid being homeless,” Scott said.

But eventually, not even selling their possessions could save them. And in June, their St. Peter landlord threatened to evict. They tried to get help from a few area agencies, they say, but found little. So they called Theresa House to find emergency housing for them and their two kids, ages 7 and 3.

“Theresa House took us in, and that place was very wonderful to us,” Scott said.

He admits there was a little bit of swallowing some pride to take up residence in a homeless shelter.

“It wasn't the nicest thing to have to admit. I was used to making $20 an hour, then you try to live on $8 an hour? It's hard,” he said. “But it wasn't, you know, a bunch of bums like you see on TV.”

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