Ebony Rhodes seems to be a typical mom, trying to do the best by her kids. But when she drove them to the library to study for their exams, the mother couldn’t have predicted that she would be pulled over by the cops.
She knew that her license had dismissed, but that was far from her biggest problem. In the trunk, Rhodes had hidden a deep, dark secret. Rhodes, a mom of four from Atlanta, Georgia, worked hard to provide everything she could for her kids. She had a job at a local store to keep them fed and clothed. And when they needed to focus on their studies, she drove them to the library.
On their way to the library, however, Rhodes was pulled over by the local Cop. She knew that she was in trouble and immediately began to well up. “[The officer] came to the car and asked why I was crying,” Rhodes recalled in an interview with CNN in March 2018. “And I was like, ‘Because I know my license isn’t good.’” But despite her obvious remorse, Rhodes’ punishment was far harsher than a warning or fine. In fact, her car was impounded and the attending officer detain her. A colleague of Rhodes then came to collect her kids, while Rhodes’ sister traveled from Florida to pick them up.
As she sat in her cell, though, the mom of four’s story began to circulate around the Atlanta Department.
You see, to Rhodes, it wasn’t just a car that had been impounded. And as cop examined the vehicle further, they realized that she had been hiding a dark secret from the world.After word of what officers had found spread, the story reached Deputy Chief Jeff Glazier. Everything was not as it had first appeared, then, and he felt compelled to learn more about the woman and her situation. And after doing so, according to CNN he had said to his wife, “We have to do something about this.”
Initially, everything had appeared normal on the surface. Rhodes showed up to work every day, and her kids were keeping up with school. But each evening when she clocked off from the store, something was happening that the mom had kept hidden from her colleagues. “When I got off work, we would just sleep right there in the parking lot in my car,” Rhodes told Channel 2 Action News in December 2017. “A lot of people didn’t know that, because I was still going to work.” So to this mom and her four kids, they’d had a lot more than a car taken away; they had in fact lost their home.
When Rhodes hadn’t been able to scrape together the deposit for a condo the year before, the hard-working mom found that she had no options left. She and her kids – three teenage brothers, Calvin, Jaheame and Issac, and their 11-year-old sister Danniaja – loaded their belongings into their 1997 Buick. The car was, quite literally, their home. They ate together there; they’d play video games and hang out. And at the end of the day, they would sleep in the vehicle. Seemingly, this wasn’t ideal, but Rhodes couldn’t find any shelters that would accept whole families, so it was the only way they could stick together.