Growing up was hard. My mom was a single parent and there were seven of us. We grew up around alcoholics and drug addicts. I’m the third oldest and I started being abused at a very young age. My family just kind of grew apart. At first we did all live together, but then we scattered. We looked for love, friends, and family on the streets. I used to be really bad, with gang members and the wrong crowd. Obviously we didn’t get love from our parents, so we tried to find it. From the age of sixteen until about my mid twenties I lived like this.
During this time, I got pregnant with my son. I feel like my whole pregnancy was a trauma because of the way I was living. I was alone the whole time, constant fights, constant violence. I had no sense of safety. I was still living from place to place and working with my social worker and my counselor when they referred me to Ellen at Housing Matters. When you’ve lived through so much, people expect you not to go anywhere in life.
But Ellen believed in me. With all the things I went through, she would just hear me out and never pity me. She pushed me to do my best. I always tell her that she’s one of my angels. I was looking at apartment options and for some reason, I kept thinking about San Jose. So when Ellen called and told me about an apartment opening in San Jose, I said whoa, let’s do it! I said yes right away.
I took a leap of faith and I’m so glad I did. Now I feel like I can breathe again. And to hear my son say he’s happy makes my heart happy. He loves being able to take baths in our new apartment. It took almost 30 years for me to finally understand how to flip the negatives to positives and just keep moving. I learned a lot from losses and heartaches; they made me stronger in the end. It’s just so nice to be able to go home.
This story was collected in 2022 by Housing Matters’ Community Engagement Manager