Originally from the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, Ms. Knox became displaced after her life was turned upside down by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Although she spent some time in Omaha, Nebraska, Ms. Knox eventually settled in Houston where another hurricane would eventually wreak havoc on her life once again.
Ms. Knox, a grandmother to over 35 grandchildren, never thought she would have to deal with the after effects of not just one, but two major hurricanes. After Hurricane Harvey, flood waters forced her out of her home in August of 2017 and she found temporary shelter in a hotel. Once the time came for her to leave the hotel, the only option she had left was sleeping in her car. Eventually Ms. Knox ended up losing her car and was forced to live out of a tent in North Houston.
“I was battling with insects and racoons in the woods, I really thought I had gone through the worst of it, but I was wrong,” said Ms. Knox. “I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and had a mastectomy; about a year ago I found a lump again for the first time since being in remission, and after they did a biopsy, they determined my cancer was back for a second time.”
Ms. Knox knew she didn’t want to battle cancer again, much less battle it without a roof over her head. She says she feels eternally grateful to 1960 Hope Center, a partner organization of The Way Home that offers shelter from inclement weather, clean restrooms, hot showers, laundry facilities, lunch and more, for leading her towards a permanent housing solution. Through the Hope Center, Ms. Knox was able to get connected with Fernando Torres at Avenue 360 Health and Wellness, who worked diligently to find her a home of her own again.
In early November Ms. Knox was finally about to walk through the doors of her new home with help from Harmony House. “It was really overwhelming at first, I was extremely restless for the first few nights,” said Ms. Knox. “When you’re used to fighting off the elements and rodents, it takes a little while to get used to.”
Although Ms. Knox will be battling her cancer head-on in the months ahead, she says she feels so blessed that she can have a home to come back to every day. She said the next steps will be determining the right course of treatment and if any additional surgeries will be needed.
When asked what she wishes others knew about those experiencing homelessness, Ms. Knox said, “Don’t be judgmental towards anyone, homelessness really can happen to anyone. Do you think I pictured myself living in the woods fighting off the elements for over a year? Absolutely not.”