After almost facing eviction late last year, the Jimenez family is grateful to be in their three-bedroom apartment in Doraville, the place they have called home since arriving in the U.S. in December 2012.

Last fall, after the father and breadwinner, Hector Jimenez, could no longer work due to a major surgery, the close-knit family of three almost lost their home. And with the mom facing health issues too, a son in high school, a daughter studying at a technical college and another son recovering from knee surgery, the family had no other source of income. When October came around, they could not pay the rent. They were on the verge of being evicted.

Then, a family friend referred them to the Latin American Association (LAA), which provided funds to help with their November rent. The LAA, through its Family Services Department, was also able to help the family negotiate with the apartment complex manager an installment plan for their delinquent rent, even as they faced an eviction notice and a date in court. The Jimenez family was able to stay in their home.

“I can’t even begin to describe what the LAA did for us,” says Aniuska Jimenez, 22, the eldest of the family’s children. “If it hadn’t been for the LAA, who knows where we would be right now. It was a miracle.”

The Jimenez family is originally from Colombia. They arrived in Georgia as refugees a little over a year ago, after living in Trinidad and Tobago for 11 years. Soon after arriving, Hector found a job working at a factory and the family was doing well. But things started to look down when the mother, Ana, who worked at the W Hotel, had to leave her job because of chronic health problems. Their middle son had to have knee surgery from problems he had before arriving in the U.S. And Hector had emergency surgery in September and stopped working. The parents did not want their daughter Aniuska to drop out of school and get a job.

After exhausting all options, they came to the LAA. The LAA was able to help them with one full month of rent and other services, says Cynthia Román, managing director of the LAA’s Family Services Deparment. “We went the extra mile, advocating on behalf of the family and coordinating services. Our office called the manager at their apartment complex and negotiated a payment plan, which allowed them to stay in their home.”

In addition, the LAA was able to stop the eviction process by coordinating bilingual legal representation through the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless.

“The LAA was our last resort,” Aniuska says.

These days, the Jimenez family is getting back on their feet. The father has found work near their home, and the mother is cleaning houses. Aniuska just finished a medical assistant program and is looking for a job. Her 19-year-old brother, Alberth, is planning on going to school once he recovers from knee surgery.

“We can now start to get our life back on track,” Aniuska says. “Little by little we are getting ahead.”

WINTER 2014