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Photo Credit: Netflix

The face of homelessness can often look different than we may think. At Family Promise, we’re familiar with the prejudice and opposition these families can face and know that homelessness looks situationally different from person-to-person. Enter ‘Maid’, the recent Netflix series that shines a light on the struggle of a young woman who experiences sudden homelessness after fleeing a threatening situation at home with her child’s father.

In this gripping TV adaption of the real-life memoir by Stephanie Land, a young mother (Alex) leaves her daughter’s volatile father in the middle of the night with no job, no transferrable ‘special skills’, and only $18 to her name. As the series follows her daily battle to scrape together enough money for food, housing, and safety for her and her little daughter, she must navigate a minefield of hurdles – from frustrating social services policies to dealing with her eccentric and imbalanced mother.

A profound moment in the series comes during Alex’s initial interaction with a social worker as she tries to get a grant for child care so she can interview for jobs. Instead, she is told that she needs to already have a job in order to get a grant for child care. To be eligible for subsidized housing, she must again present pay stubs. She curses and questions these policies, highlighting some of the systemic holes that may create potential barriers for those seeking the first steps to self-reliance. Alex laments, “Why offer Section 8 if it’s a mythical unicorn that nobody ever gets?” As Alex seeks rental assistance through TBRA (Tenant-Based Rental Assistance), she is seen desperately trying to convince landlord after landlord to accept the vouchers.

Photo Credit: Netflix

“I describe it as walking on a tightrope over a floor that is constantly dropping out from underneath.” - Stephanie Land

The series follows her through shelters and temporary housing to Value Maids – a service run by a feisty character named Yolanda. Through her back-breaking work as a maid, Alex has a lens into the lives of multiple families and relationships. From a high-maintenance homeowner named Regina (who ends up being much more than she first appears) to ‘the love house’ where she witnesses firsthand a husband’s loving and undying devotion to his terminal wife.

Alex’s own life story was complicated with an eccentric, unreliable, and bipolar mother, and an estranged father. These characters’ own faults and shortcomings beg the question about learned behavior and generational poverty which Alex so desperately wants to break free from.

The series makes many viewers aware of the plight of having zero financial resources, a lack of reliable child care, housing, transportation, and a reliable family support system. It also exposes a fragile social safety net, which is often full of holes.

Photos Credit: Netflix

But if Maid sounds painfully bleak, it’s not. Despite a deck stacked against her, there are defining moments of joy, awareness, strength, and small victories couched by unexpected acts of kindness and support. These, along with Alex’s unflinching resolve, propel her to break through and break out – reminding us that the cycle can be broken, and that we can each help mitigate another’s struggle along that path. Sometimes the simple act of watching or reading someone else’s story can open our eyes and broaden our understanding.

To read the real-life memoir that inspired the Netflix series, ‘Maid’ – check out Stephanie Land’s book, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive.

Author Photos Credit: Amazon


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