Living without a home is a traumatic experience and returning back to housing takes support of all different kinds. There can be fear, shame and nerves when a person steps onto Housing Matters’ campus for the first time, but then they are introduced to our expert supportive staff and things change. From day one, they have people behind them to help them along the way and that is when they can begin the stabilizing process of finding a place to call home. Miley, a veteran and previous participant through our Supportive Services for Veterans Program, recently sent us a thank you note after finding stable housing in our community. 

“When I first came to Housing Matters, I met J-Bear, a Case Manager here at Housing Matters. I was nervous, terrified, and ashamed of my situation all at the same time. J-Bear put me at ease fast. He was so very kind and patient, extremely attentive, knowledgeable, and thorough. I felt heard and safe and I needed that so desperately at the time. It’s obvious that helping others is at his core. I recall thinking, ‘Wow this is the most perfect person for this job and Santa Cruz is lucky to have him.’

“Then I met Cory. Cory was like the dose of humor and good sense I needed at the time, every single time. I remember one particularly rough day where I was hysterical crying and getting cold feet about the house I am in now. I could not imagine being consoled. Impossible, no way, no how. BUT the most amazing thing happened, Cory read this situation perfectly. He was so level-headed, it was like magic, he said exactly what I needed to get me out of panic mode. I think I even ended up laughing. He’s got some serious skills when it comes to dealing with people in crisis. 

“Then there’s Kadie. Just wow! What a blessing to have had her in my corner. She was the voice of reason that I needed. I could not imagine getting through it all without her support. She checked in on me all the time, listened intently, and gave me practical suggestions that put me into action instead of spinning out in fear. She went to tremendous lengths to set me up for success every step of the way. I knew at times she even went out of her way to do it. She truly cared and helped me find strength as I was hitting an emotional bottom. I will never ever forget that. 

“Today, I am feeling really amazing, My health is fantastic, I volunteer at my church 2 days a week teaching classes. I’m channeling my creativity into graphic design and website development and exploring some freelance work options. I got certified as a fitness instructor and am going to start teaching classes online which is helping me build self-esteem, virtual teaching skills, and is a nice segue back into the workforce. I’ve got a budget I’m sticking to and am getting out of debt. The VA sent my stuff to the Housing Authority in November and I’m hopeful they will be in the picture soon.

“I feel hopeful about all the good opportunities that I see ahead. It would be impossible if I didn’t have a great team of people supporting me. A heartfelt thanks to all of the people at Housing Matters for all they do. I am truly grateful and could not let another day go by without saying so.”

We are so proud of the hard work Miley, and people just like her, do to return back to housing after experiencing homelessness. It is not easy, but with stable support and people around you who believe in you, anything is possible. Stories like Miley’s motivate us to continue moving forward and housing as many of our unhoused neighbors as possible. 

*A stock photo and pseudonym have been used at Miley’s request

This story was collected in March of 2021 by Andrea Feltz, Community Engagement Manager