16-year-old getting new home after spending year in shelters, battling COVID-19

Monica Makes It Happen

HARLEM, Manhattan — When PIX11 News first met 16-year-old Schania Burgess, she told us her only wish was to have her own bedroom in her own home.

It’s a long road that took a detour fighting COVID-19, but her dream is coming true.

“I want my own room and I want it to be pink, my favorite color,” Burgess said back in December outside The Stewart Hotel, a shelter for homeless families in Midtown.

Schania and her mother had been in five different shelters in a year and a half. They reached out to PIX11 News to help find them a home.

Schania’s mom, Scherry Barnett, told us it was impossible to find a wheelchair accessible apartment with their Section 8 voucher. Then, just before Valentine’s Day, Schania got very sick and was rushed to the hospital. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 and put on a ventilator.

Schania was on a ventilator fighting for her life in the ICU for weeks. Scherry celebrated her daughters 16th birthday in the hospital.

Then, a miracle. Schania opened her eyes. Day by day she got stronger and stronger.  

She’s now feeling strong and flashing her trademark smile again. But that’s not the only good news.

Friday afternoon, Sherry picked up the keys to their new NYCHA apartment.

We asked her what it feels like to finally have a place to call home.

“Relief, joy, excitement,” she said. “I’m just happy.”

Their three-bedroom Section 8 apartment is wheelchair accessible. They now finally have a place to call their own.

Scherry says her top priority is getting the apartment ready when Schania finally gets out of the hospital next week. Her room will be painted pink, of course.

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