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Princess Alleyen and her daughter August were at the site of the family’s new apartment March 21 that came with furniture from Aarons. (Photo by Diandra Bolton, Howard University News Service)

Some families in Ward 8 are celebrated new beginnings during the week of March 20.  Princess Alleyen, whose family has been struggling with homelessness and unemployment, is one of them.

Alleyen’s is one of 28 formerly homeless families who received a home stocked with new furniture, including leather sofas, love seats, beds and tables, thanks to a collaboration between the city and Aarons, the nation’s largest appliance and furniture rental company.

“I am so grateful,” Alleyen said during a press conference March 21 announcing the gift.  “This will be the spark my family and others need to get ahead in our lives.”

Through Jobs Have Priority, an organization that helps D.C. residents find employment, and support from Aarons and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), Alleyen, her partner, Jason Tyson, and their two sons, ages 19-months and 11, can now look back on more than a year of being homeless  instead of it being a part of their everyday reality.

The organization provides apartment-style shelter for families who have experienced homelessness, many of which are single-parent households caring for two to three young children, Bowser said. Many have at least one family member with a mental, developmental or physical disability, she added.

At an Aarons community outreach event March 21, 100 employees installed more than $60,000 worth of new living room and bedroom furniture in units at an apartment complex located at 2601 Naylor Road in southeast Washington.

The company’s CEO Robert Kamerschen said Aarons is planning more projects in D.C. and other cities.

“Aarons believes that caring starts with respect,” he said during the press conference.   “This donation and our efforts across D.C. demonstrate a civic commitment that began with our founding more than 60 years ago and endures today thanks to the dedication and big hearts of our associates.”

Tyson expressed his surprise and appreciation for Aarons’ gift.

“My family and I weren’t expecting much from Aarons,” said Tyson, who is a courtesy driver assisting low-income families with their transportation needs thanks to Jobs Have Priority.   “So, to see what they gave us really is moving, and exciting.”

Alleyen said she is still looking for a job through Jobs Have Priority and is working with the program to learn how to budget the family’s finances and manage a household.

“Every single resident in our city deserves a safe and dignified home, and Aaron’s is supporting us in achieving this goal by supplying high-quality furniture for families,” she said. “The goal is to do this in every ward in the district before 2016 is over.”