MEET THE KERR FAMILY
Raising a family is a challenge under any circumstances, but when you are living in motels and shelters it can become almost impossible.
The Kerr family had such a journey before they found an affordable apartment in WHCHC’s Glendale family building.
M. Kerr, a Marine Corps veteran, met his wife Bonnie at a pet shop
in 1995. “I thought she was very beautiful, and once I found out
she was hearing impaired, I really didn’t care. She gave me a card
with the ABCs of sign language and I learned it in one day. We’ve
been together ever since, married for 16 years.”
After the children were born, they ended up living with family,
“...but that didn’t work out,” says M. Sr. “So then we became
homeless--but not quite--we were staying at a motel downtown.
We paid $900 a month, and every 27 days we had to move out for
2 days so that you didn’t establish residency so that they didn’t
have to evict you if you didn’t pay the rent.
“So we were paying rent for years in this motel, but nobody would give us an apartment because our credit was bad. Every time we applied for an apartment they charged us $50 and our score dropped. We didn’t know that--you have to learn things the hard way sometimes. But we never gave up hope.”
“We asked different agencies for help, and one of them told us we had to move out of the motel and into a shelter to be accommodated, so we moved into a shelter for two months. We celebrated a birthday there, and I got a good job as a carpenter while we were there--so we had some money but our credit was not good.
Living at the shelter was hard. They were informed that there was a person in the area who was restricted from being around children. “That really made me antsy because I had to go to work every day and leave my wife and two kids at the shelter. Then she would take them to school in the morning, sit in the park until they got out of school and pick me up late at work in the car.”
Finally they heard from WHCHC that they were eligible for an apartment. “We are very blessed to be here. The schools here are wonderful--my boys are doing excellently in school and getting straight A’s, and M. Jr. has been offered a scholarship to one academy. He wants to study entomology. Joshua plays two instruments, the violin and the bass. And my wife is happy--and she’s not happy often, but being here makes her very happy.
“This building has a lot of diverse ethnicities. And that, for my kids, is the most important thing for me to teach them, that the world isn’t made up of one race--it’s made up of many diverse cultures, religious backgrounds, upbringings. They see that here. My family is diverse. My sister-in-law is Filipino; my cousin is El Salvadorian; we have Mexican and Puerto Rican relatives, and Bonnie’s father is French Canadian, and her grandmother was Irish. That’s how the world should be, and you don’t find that everywhere. In other neighborhoods, you would have to worry about not being part of the majority race, and people picking on you because of that, but here you can just be who you are.”
“We’ve never had a problem with anyone in this building. The building is maintained immaculately. They always make sure if something’s broken it’s fixed immediately. Most landlords don’t want to pay to fix anything. People are friendly, they are very sweet to Bonnie, and always bring food over to her. We are happy to have found our church in this neighborhood, too.
The opportunity to live in an affordable apartment has given the Kerr family a new life, and a bright future for their two wonderful boys. Along the way, they saw others who just gave up, but as M. Sr. says: “...we never stopped believing it was going to get better. After living here a while, people start realizing you’re going to pay your bills. It’s nice. We’re happy. We’re very happy, and very thankful to West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation.”