After five years of working in property management, Christian Ortiz knew what was coming when she fell behind on her rent last fall. “I have been the one delivering the eviction notice,” she said. “It changes everything for you.”

Her leisurely job search suddenly took on more urgency.

A friend referred Ortiz to Cincinnati Works for help finding a job, and in the process she found help with the rent.

Lisa Mauthe, Director of Financial Wellness at Cincinnati Works, helped Ortiz secure emergency assistance from Project LIFT, which allowed her to make the rent and car payments that were past due. In turn, that gave her the stability to build a new career in a new industry.

Lisa Mauthe (left) and Christian Ortiz

Less than six months after facing an imminent eviction and perhaps the loss of her car, Ortiz has a new apartment in Clifton and a job she loves – with significant potential for advancement – in Blue Ash.

“Cincinnati Works stopped me from hitting rock bottom,” she said. “I was able to settle myself and not have to deal with the repercussions of a repo’d car. Yeah, my credit took a hit because I missed a couple payments, but at least I didn’t get evicted. That stays with you for years.”

Ortiz qualified for Project LIFT funds as a mother of three kids; she shares custody with her ex-husband. Project LIFT is an initiative of the Child Poverty Collaborative, and the funding is intended to help families avoid short-term financial distress that might otherwise send them spiraling deeper into poverty.

Soon after utilizing the funds, Ortiz accepted a job at CityBird as a shift supervisor. She has since earned a raise and is on the fast track to becoming general manager of a restaurant, either a future CityBird location or another entity in Thunderdome Restaurant Group.

“Christian is super-motivated and driven,” Mauthe said. “She came to us during a temporary slump, used the services that were appropriate for her and hustled a lot on her own to keep things moving in the right direction. She’s a great model for our other Members.”

Ortiz said she has had other job offers since starting at CityBird, but she turned them down because she appreciates the culture at the restaurant and she is optimistic about her chances for further promotions. It is a far cry from the frustration she felt last fall.

Upon being laid off from her job with a luxury housing company in May 2019, Ortiz expected to find a new job quickly. By September, she said, “it felt like my soul was on fire. I was just crying and praying.”

Her friend Tevis Clark, a Professional Development Coach at Cincinnati Works, suggested that Ortiz become a Member. She was placed in the Advancement program, and she has since worked with coaches to update her resume and establish a financial plan.

“I’m back on my feet,” she said. “Cincinnati Works was there when I needed it. I can just imagine where I would have been if I didn’t have that safety net to catch me in my fall.”

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