Cassie Gendron sits at home Friday with her 2-year-old son in Lewiston. Gendron and her partner were homeless for four months last year after being evicted by family members from the house they had been renting in the hopes of buying. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Cassie Gendron and her partner, Jordan Day, were living the dream. They were renting a house in Lewiston from Day’s family that they anticipated owning. They had welcomed a baby boy into their family. Gendron was working full time and Day had decided to dip his toe into the job market, despite having mental and physical disabilities that made it difficult to work.

But Day’s uncle decided he wanted to sell the house. The couple had been making payments for a year toward the purchase of the house, but had never formalized the rent-to-own paperwork, they say.

The house was co-owned by Day’s mother and her brother. Unbeknownst to them, Day’s mother had relinquished control of the house in January 2022. After the couple received the news they were being forced out of the home, Day’s mother offered them a room in her own home. But they did not trust her. They believed Day’s mother had been working to evict them along with her brother.

“We weren’t sure who to trust. We were being kicked out of a situation that was supposed to be safe and secure,” Gendron said.

The young couple, who had been dating since high school, could not believe they were being evicted.

They went to court to fight their eviction. Their lawyer reached an agreement with the landlord, Day’s uncle, but it wasn’t much. “We had to buy the place outright or get a loan for it to buy it,” Gendron said. For two 22-year-olds, securing a home loan was beyond their means.


As the eviction date closed in, they scrambled to find a roof to keep over their heads.

“I had a friend, and his parents owned a camper,” Gendron said. The camper turned out to be a disaster. “It was completely destroyed by squirrels.” But the same friends had a school bus they wanted to turn into a camper.

Day offered to rip out the seats and install flooring in exchange for allowing the couple to stay there, also giving the friends a refrigerator the couple no longer had space for and some cash. On June 30, they loaded their furniture and belongings into a storage unit and moved into the bus.

Day had been let go from his first job during this time, so the young family was living off Gendron’s income.

Meanwhile, Gendron said her caseworker was working on getting them permanent housing. “She kept trying to get us homeless verifications and emergency housing vouchers, she said. “She signed us up for Section 8 (subsidized federal housing). She signed up for a bunch of subsidized housing areas throughout the state.”

With a first’s month’s rent and security deposit in hand, they started going to apartment showings and reaching out to landlords.


Eager to start their rental relationship truthfully, and hoping to convey their desperation, they were upfront about their living situation. “We have a child we need to house; it’s not just about us,” Gendron said.

They were surprised at the reception to their honesty.

“The minute we mentioned we were homeless, that’s when the conversation changed. Their entire demeanor would change. The landlords would immediately say: ‘Oh, I’ll get back to you,’” Gendron said. When the couple reached back out to the landlords they were told other tenants had been chosen.

“Some people would be sympathetic to our situation, but still not help us,” she said.

Gendron’s older sister had been through a similar struggle trying to find housing. She had been taking care of their mother, who had suffered a stroke in 2020. Then the sister’s landlord sold the trailer she was living in. She wanted to buy a house of her own but was unable to secure a loan.

Gendron’s sister and her child ended up moving to New York to live with her ex-husband. “He is a military guy. So he’s able to support them. And half the time he’s deployed anyways,” Gendron said.


Their mother moved into a nursing home.

By the end of October 2022 and still in the bus, Gendron and Day could not see a solution to their predicament.

Day went to talk to his mother, to get to the bottom of her involvement in their eviction.

“She showed Jordan how she gave up her rights to the house (that Gendron and Day had been renting to own), which meant she also stepped away from being our landlord. She had no part in anything and was trying to help the entire time.”

With winter looming, the couple moved out of the bus and moved in with Day’s mother, her mother’s boyfriend, Day’s older sister, and her son. “There’s seven of us total, including the three of us,” Gendron said. “Also, three dogs and three cats. It’s a busy household.”

Gendron still works full time, commuting to Topsham every day. Day is looking for work again. They do not seem interested in renting again. “Renting is just a nightmare,” Gendron said.

“People don’t realize just how easily it can affect them,” she said. “All it takes is your landlord selling your building or your landlord increasing your rent by $200. Losing a little bit of food stamps or losing a little bit of Social Security. That can be any person.”

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