RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Central Virginians responded immediately after learning of Nicole Thweatt’s story. The mother of three was abruptly removed from temporary housing and lost all of her belongings shortly after being hospitalized for an emergency caesarean section.
While her newborn is in the NICU and her other two children were staying with friends, 8News spoke to Thweatt Monday night outside of the car she has been sleeping in.
Messages on social media for the single mother read, “we would love to help the young lady and her family,” “I’d like to help Nicole…,” “Thank you for sharing so that others can lend a hand,” “praying for your family and God’s on your side.”
Monday night, Thweatt described returning to the Days Inn Hotel on Midlothian Turnpike last Friday after the emergency c-section at the hospital. When she approached the room’s front door–where her 11 and 7-year-old children were also living through a temporary housing program with Commonwealth Catholic Charities–a shocking discovery: another family had moved in, and her belongings were “disposed of” according to the non-profit.
Thweatt described the outpouring of support Tuesday, saying “there’s still some good people out here who are willing to help a stranger.”
The 30-year-old said she feels overwhelmed with the responses thus far, and is taking the time to reply to people who have contacted her as soon as possible. Thankful for the chance to share her story, she told 8News Tuesday afternoon she was talking with several people about possible housing for the night, and in the days ahead.
While her baby remains in the NICU, Thweatt said she is trying to keep the message positive for her two older children, explaining that they don’t know how bad the living situation is right now.
“They was like, ‘mom, you’re on TV.’ But they don’t now the severity of it,” she said. “I just choose not to expose them to too much.”
Jessica Wells, Vice President of Mission Advancement with Commonwealth Catholic Charities declined a second opportunity for an interview, saying, “Like I stated yesterday, we cannot speak about an individual due to confidentiality policies.”
After having a cesarean section at the hospital, a mother experiencing homelessness was heartbroken to find the Richmond hotel room she was living in was emptied, and a new family had moved in. Commonwealth Catholic Charities, the nonprofit group offering the temporary housing, pointed to a communication issue and the two-month timeline people are offered housing as to why this family was displaced.
Nicole Thweatt is unsure where to turn, one week after delivering her newborn daughter Ni’Jae who weighs less than two pounds.
In an interview with 8News while inside in her car where she lives alone with her 11 and 7-year-old children, Thweatt pointed to the small collection of newly donated clothes and water bottles.
“All these little containers are breast milk storage bottles,” she said, noting she should be pumping breast milk but does not have the ability to store it.
After leaving the hospital and returning to the Days Inn hotel off Midlothian Turnpike the family was living in, Thweatt described a shocking discovery at the room door.
“Before I put the key in, I heard voices on the other side. And so, I knocked, and a little girl had open the door,” she said
Another family had moved in. Her belongings were gone.
“Clothes, shoes, hats, coats … all of our Social Security cards, Medicaid cards,” she said.
A representative with Commonwealth Catholic Charities, who helps house people without homes like Thweatt at the hotel, said they “disposed of” the belongings.
Commonwealth Catholic Charities Vice President of Mission Advancement Jessica Wells said if rooms are not being used, the organization moves in another family.
But Thweatt said no one contacted her in advance, saying “I feel like I’ve been robbed of my whole life.”
“With me being in the hospital, I did not know that I had to call anyone and let them know that I’m having my baby early,“ Thweatt said.
For now, the car is home. Tonight, her oldest kids are at a friend’s house, but she described how the trio have been sleeping; and nights are getting colder.
“My son, he likes to sleep beside me and lean the seat all the way back. And my daughter, she’ll just lay back here.”
Wells went on to say that their housing program at the hotel is not “never-ending,“ and intervention lasts for 60 days. Thweatt was there for that amount of time and says she did not know of any impending end to her housing accommodation.
We asked Wells why Commonwealth Catholic Charities did not call Thweatt her before removing her belongings, pointing to a communication issue, Thweatt was “no longer a client,” and she could reapply for the program.
Thweatt said she has no intention of reapplying with Commonwealth Catholic Charities.
Wells said she could not further comment on the specifics of this case, but said people are asked to leave if they have stayed longer than 60 days and if they do not adhere to program policies which include meeting with staff, continuing to live in the room and following health and safety procedures.
Reach out to 8News at 804-330-8888 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to reach Thweatt.