After a lifetime of employment and then falling into homelessness for two years, getting secure housing has been a miracle. I feel like myself again.
Darnell, Westmore Linden Resident
Our resident, Señora Silvia dreamed of becoming a U.S. citizen. After what seemed an almost impossible task, with loads of red tape and waiting for nearly four years Señora Silvia never lost hope. Though she faced hurdle after hurdle and even took the Natrualization test twice she didn't give up. In addition, Señora Silvia does not speak English, despite this she studied so diligently that she knew all the correct answers to the 100 test questions in English. Her tenacious mindset and constant desire to achieve her goal finally paid off. With the guidance from her RSCs, Señora Silvia obtained her citizenship this past summer. She was joined at the ceremony by her son, Ivan, and RSCs Cheryl & Judy.
Hayworth House resident Roxy has always prioritized home decorating. An award-winning interior designer, she looks at her apartment community from an artist’s point of view. She expressed how much she likes the building’s layout, palette, and the way it is complemented by three beautiful plants. “I walked in [to Hayworth House] and loved the bones of the building,” Roxy explained. Her at-home hobbies include decorating her apartment and her neighbors'. “I’ve spent a lot of time redecorating,” Roxy shared. “My style tends to be minimalistic.”
Roxy had previously lived in a studio apartment with her son. Today, Roxy thrives on her own at Hayworth House. “I found out about this opportunity, and I just remember thinking… ‘Thank God’!”
When Bethel and her two young sons fled their home due to domestic violence, they had nowhere to turn. They bounced among shelters for over a year. Then an apartment became available at Vermont Manzanita in Los Angeles and everything changed. With the stability of a safe home, and the support of our Resident Services Coordinators, they have turned their lives around. Bethel is now a certified phlebotomist. The boys are doing well in school and participate in many of the programs offered on site, including reading club and kids’ gardening club.
Under any circumstances, raising a family is a challenge. Add the element of living in motels and shelters, and those struggles can make having a comfortable life become nearly impossible. Prior to moving into a WHCHC affordable apartment community in Glendale, the Kerr family had a rough journey. 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,” M. shared. 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, the Kerrs moved in with family, but after a sudden change in circumstances, they were on their own. “We became homeless, but not quite,” M. explained. “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 we didn’t establish residency so that they didn’t have to evict you if you didn’t pay the rent.” M. continued to explain how after paying rent for years in the motel they were staying at, it was hard to find an apartment as their credit score dropped—every time the Kerrs applied for an apartment, the fees they were charged caused their score to drop. “We didn’t know that--you have to learn things the hard way sometimes,” M. sighed. “But we never gave up hope.”
The Kerrs began asking different agencies for help. “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,” M. explained. “Living at the shelter was hard. We celebrated a birthday there, M. soon got a good job as a carpenter while at the shelter, but though he was making money, their credit was still low. To make matters worse, 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,” M. expressed. “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, the Kerrs heard life-changing news: they were eligible for a WHCHC apartment. “We are very blessed to be here. The building is maintained immaculately. They always make sure if something’s broken it’s fixed immediately. People are friendly, they are very sweet to Bonnie, and always bring food over to her,” M expressed happiness upon his early years in their new home at Orange Grove Apartments.
Fast forward to present day, about a decade later, and the Kerrs are so happy that the opportunity for them to live in an affordable apartment years ago gave them a new life, and a bright future for their two wonderful boys. The Kerrs went from homeless, to stable, to thriving. Today, longtime residents of Orange Grove, The Kerr Family, happily thrive at Orange Grove, where the stability of housing and critical support services have allowed for their success. Along the way, they saw others who gave up, but they were determined to keep going and it paid off. “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.”
Both brothers, Michael and Joshua, are now third generation marines—serving just like their father and grandfather did. Michael is now engaged after being honorably discharged and Joshua is at Camp Pendleton. The family is very happy with their lives, family dynamics, and home. “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,” M. explained. “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.”
RSC Cheryl reflected on the first time WHCHC wrote about the Kerr family; the boys were in grade school and all four of them had just moved into Glen Grove, via Glendale’s homeless families program. “I’m so happy that they are happy, healthy, and doing well.”
Jovita is a wise and hard-working woman determined to make a better path for her family. Jovita lives with her son, Ivan, her daughters, Elia & Hailey, and granddaughter, Harmony at Vermont Manzanita. Nearly five years ago the family of five was sleeping on two mattresses on the floor of a one-bedroom apartment. On the verge of being homeless, they got a fateful call that changed the course of their lives. Housing—not just any housing, but a safe, high-quality, affordable three-bedroom unit—was available at a brand new building.
Now, Jovita has gone from a stay-at-home mom to having a fulltime job, and she was recently promoted to assistant manager. Jovita credits her advancement at work to her English speaking skills: she consistently attends ESL classes in the community, and WHCHC’s English Conversation Group. She also reads daily with her daughter, Hailey. Jovita’s oldest, Ivan, began his freshman year at Cal State LA in 2017. Ivan is currently thriving in his third year at the university and will graduate with a BS in Business Administration in next June. Ivan plans on immediately continuing his education to receive a Masters in Sports Medicine.
Darnell worked various jobs over his lifetime: nurse’s assistant, barber, auto salesperson, telephone operator, and for Amtrak. Like so many, after a lifetime of employment, he fell into homelessness in 2018.
Unwilling to settle for the hand he’d been dealt, Darnell kept at it, constantly trying all channels to be one of the lucky ones to secure housing. Darnell expressed his joy about his transition out of homelessness and into Westmore Linden: “It’s been a miracle; I feel like myself again.”
A long time wish for Mariana has been to live where she can be herself and thrive. Her new home at a WHCHC affordable apartment community is just that. “Feeling safe to be myself is the #1 priority,” Mariana shared. “In West Hollywood, I not only feel safe, but also feel welcomed and loved.” She was ecstatic to move into her new apartment this past summer, and has settled into her space quickly.
Mariana’s work as a Program Manager at the LA LGBT Center’s Trans Wellness Center took her to West Hollywood often. She dreamed of the day she could live in the community she was serving. “As a service provider, I never asked for anything for myself, I am always advocating for others. But this time was for me and I am extremely thankful.”
On a warm summer’s day this past June, fate knocked on Mariana’s door. She had the opportunity to live in her WHCHC apartment. She was so excited about the chance, she already had her application and eligibility documents ready to go: placed neatly in a folder titled “Dreams Come True.”
Mariana remembers being greeted by the building manager who handed the keys to her new home. “When you feel welcome, it means the world. I feel a big change in my life.”Today, housing stability gives Mariana peace of mind and brings motivation to her next step. “I am willing to work to make this city a better place for everyone,” Mariana explained. “After a long journey, I feel like I have finally arrived.”
Since day one, Nonna has been comfortable and at ease in her WHCHC apartment community. She loves relaxing inside while listening to music and walking outside to the West Hollywood shops in her neighborhood. Nonna considers it a blessing to have built lifelong friendships and be amongst neighbors that share the same culture.
Nonna moved from Moscow to Los Angeles in 2007. For years, she lived with her adult children. Her family and friends helped guide Nonna in adjusting to her new life, and though she was grateful, she knew she could thrive independently. Determined to take the next step in her life, Nonna sought other options in the West Hollywood area. She was delighted to be among those chosen for Hayworth House in 2012.
Today, Nonna enjoys the balance of her own independence and having a supportive community around her. From previously attending concerts with neighbors to currently receiving supplemental food deliveries to her door, Nonna feels secure through the enriching experiences at her apartment community, brought to life by her Resident Services Coordinator, Alla. In fact, Nonna and Alla have become so close that they even work on the community garden together!
A single, working mother born and raised in Los Angeles, Kevinisha enjoys the resident services programs at her apartment community. One of her favorite programs is the supplemental meal deliveries that provide milk, fruit, and vegetables for all residents. “I love those programs,” Kevinisha said. “They help us a lot.”
Like mother, like son: Kevinisha loves that her son has educational opportunities, like robotics and coding, right at home. Her son takes part in the Resident Service Coordinator organized activity called “STOKED,” which stands for “Success, Teamwork, Openness, Kudos, Energy, and Determination.” During STOKED, the young residents at Vermont Manzanita learn all types of new lessons, from how to make a skateboard and balance on it to uplifting their peers in the “STOKED Circle.” A motivating and encouraging time for all involved!
Together, over the past year of living at their WHCHC apartment community, Kevinisha and her son have participated in numerous resident services at home. The two have received goods, such as pajama pants and Thanksgiving gift cards, which have made all the difference in their holiday seasons. “We got to go to the store and pick exactly what we wanted for our Thanksgiving meal,” Kevinisha explained. “What a feeling.”
Blue Hibiscus resident, Anthony, is a native Californian. For a young gay man, West Hollywood is a safe haven. During those years, and many more to come, he volunteered as a peer support counselor at Being Alive, a wellness focused organization for people living with HIV/AIDS. Eventually, Anthony needed a change and moved out to Ventura for a while, still maintaining his local connections and volunteerism.
But Anthony realized as an aging gay man, he would feel more comfortable living in a more LGBT-positive community. He kept his eyes open for affordable opportunities and applied where he could. As someone who was once nearly homeless he has a deep appreciation for affordable housing - which he has today at Blue Hibiscus. “Stable housing is so important,” says Anthony. “It really brings me peace of mind.”
Anthony was particularly excited about Seeds of Hope, a partner agency who brings free, fresh produce to residents and has created edible gardens at a number of WHCHC apartment communities. As the pandemic hit and activities at the buildings were paused, he knew that he needed to do something to help curtail his own isolation and look for an opportunity for creative expression. Using the garden as an outlet, Anthony collaborated with neighbors and Seeds of Hope me so much joy in a time of stress and uncertainty,” he said.
Anna M. moved to the US from Armenia in 1994 when she was just 21 years old. “This is my dream, my country,” she said with a glow. Anna remembers the day in 2001 when she received a phone call telling her that she won the lottery for a unit at Detroit Family Apartments in West Hollywood. “I was one of the first people in the building,” she said proudly. Both Anna and her husband of 25 years are musicians and trained pianists. They both went to music school and graduated as conductors. Anna currently works as the manager of an organic nail clinic while her husband works in construction.
Anna and her husband raised a son and a daughter at Detroit Family Apartments. She is very proud to say that her son graduated from college with a degree in Political Science and is now employed by the Superior Court. During her time living at Detroit Family Apartments she said her activities with Resident Services has been wonderful. Her relationship with Alla, her Resident Service Coordinator, has been exceptional. Anna says that she loves her home, in fact, “I love America too much!” she said with a laugh. “I am always saying to my family, the place where I live is the center soul of Los Angeles.”
With the stability of housing, Tina has a new lease on life.
“My whole goal for 2022 is breaking cycles,” Tina declared proudly from the comfort of Vermont Manzanita’s cozy community room. As her two children laughed and played, she shared her story. Tina and her family of four moved into Vermont Manzanita in November 2021 after enduring the uncertainties and frustrations associated with securing affordable housing. “I took action and was able to move us in.”
Tina is a stay at home Mom to Julian (7 years old) and Gabriel (2 years old) while her partner works full time. Her days are busy, filled with lots of activities, and she truly appreciates the comfort of their new home. “I love this place. It has all your basic needs and the rent is low,” she said. Tina has taken full advantage of the myriad resident services available to the family. A few of the programs that they have engaged in include FEAST’s 16-week healthy living program, the Karsh Center’s fresh produce delivery, Metro LA’s – Neighborhood Leadership Group, and STOKED – a mentorship and empowerment program for youth. When asked how she felt about her Resident Services Coordinator, all she could say was, “Amazing, amazing…AMAZING!” Tina also added, “She empowered me to advocate for my son on my own. She gave me the contacts and I was able to explain our situation and provide my son more opportunities.” By embracing these possibilities Tina feels she has changed her family’s entire trajectory.
“I’m proud of who I’m becoming now,” Tina said with a smile. “I’m manifesting nothing but great things for myself and for everyone around me.”
A quiet Library Aid, full of extensive knowledge and a thirst for world travel, Lyubov has been employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District for 26 years. Lyubov has worked at the legendary Hollywood High School Library for the past 10 years. Working with children for over 51 years her love for education is her passion. Being actively involved with her community is certainly something that Lyubov prides herself on. She has served on the West Hollywood Russian Advisory Board since 2010.
Lyubov became a resident at Fountain Fuller Apartments in 2000 until space became available at Detroit Family Apartments in 2008—where she still lives today. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else, I walk everywhere but I love to come home,” Lyubov said. She truly enjoys living in Detroit Family Apartments where she feels safe and connected to people of similar culture.
Itzel knew it was imperative for her family’s safety to start anew. She and her children were living in dangerous circumstances. They even slept in the hallway of their previous building to avoid danger in their own living space. Itzel has lived in Southern California her entire life—born in San Diego, Itzel moved to the LA area at a young age and she lived all around Los Angeles before moving into Elden Elms.
“When I found out we were going to live at Elden Elms, I burst out crying. The area we came from is so dangerous. Our building was shot at. First we began sleeping in our living room for safety. When they shot at my living room window, we started sleeping in the hallways to avoid windows,” Itzel explained. “The shooting happened in November. And we moved out of that building as soon as I signed my lease at Elden Elms.”
Today, Itzel and her four children have been living happily, healthily, and safely at Elden Elms. “I used to pass by this building every day and try to manifest my family living there. Now, I have the view… It’s just everything I wanted. It’s everything you could imagine, plus extra!”
Itzel is so happy that what she’d dreamed of for such a long time became a reality. “People like me, who are single mothers, it gives us hope. I just kept telling myself, ‘I’m a hard worker. I deserve to live somewhere better’. And now I live somewhere better. And it’s thanks to you guys! I appreciate you guys! I can’t explain my gratitude to be one of the lucky ones.”
Clara grew up in Beaumont, Texas and has been a woman of independent means her whole life. Diagnosed with polio at age three, Clara underwent surgeries every summer of her childhood. Even still, she thrived on her own eventually living in a two-story Victorian house in the Los Angeles area for fifteen years.
Until one day in 1999, Clara’s life came to a screeching halt. She was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome and her day-to-day life became nearly unmanageable. It reached a point where she couldn’t climb the stairs of her home on her own. “I was actually crawling up and down the stairs,” Clara expressed. “I was paying a neighbor to take my power wheelchair apart, carry it downstairs and put it together again each time I needed to go out.”
Clara’s physical condition was failing, and she needed extra help. She began seeking programs and resources that could change her life for the better. After a two-year search for an accessible ground-floor apartment she could afford, Clara found her chance at life again: In Fall 2004, she was contacted about an opening at Havenhurst Apartments. Clara quickly got her paperwork together and sent in her application. The rest is history, and Clara has called Havenhurst home ever since. She even remembers the day when she was handed her set of keys to her apartment… with tears in her eyes. “I decided to leave the past behind,” Clara recalled, smiling ear to ear. “I can attain my goals and dreams to keep working longer and healthier.”
With the stability of housing, Clara now lives a full and productive life regardless of her challenges.
With each key comes a story, and Esther’s story comes with a smile. Her enthusiasm shined through as she expressed her favorite part of her home at Westmore Linden: “Everything!” she said. “I like the interior, I like the new floors, I like the beautiful balcony. Everything!”
Esther went from housing insecurity to housing stability at Westmore Linden. She was relieved to say goodbye to a previous apartment building where she faced a filthy living environment, short notice rent increases, and multiple car break-ins. Esther, a retired senior, knew she needed a place that suited her better. And that’s when she greeted her new apartment community, Westmore Linden, with her one-of-a-kind smile. “I love you guys!”, Esther cheered, as she remembered this life changing moment. Key in hand, smile on her face, Esther was ready for her next chapter in a comfortable and beautiful living space.
Jeanie, Esther’s daughter, shared the positive impact of Esther’s move to Westmore Linden. “I have lived with my mother for 10+ years,” Jeanie began. “Comparing the old previous apartment to Westmore Linden, I can say that my mother is overly happy. Pretty much I don’t think there are words to how I can compare [Westmore Linden] and the old place.” The rest is history. With a brand new key in her hand, Esther felt right at home very quickly. “Everybody is kind. Very kind. Thank you very much!” Welcome home, Esther!
In 2019, Ken and his husband Juan celebrated their 13th anniversary together and one year anniversary at Blue Hibiscus. They previously lived on the same site in an older bungalow court that WHCHC redeveloped in 2016 to double the number of affordable home. “Juan and I are so grateful to not be priced out of our neighborhood and our community,” Ken said.
More than just returning to the neighborhood they call home, Blue Hibiscus provides many amenities that are vital to their activities of daily living. Blue Hibiscus incorporates universal design principles so residents can truly age in place.
Every apartment is designed to be functional and practical for people both with and without mobility impairments. The goal is no resident should be displaced due to acquired disability. “Juan is more reliant on a wheelchair and we have been so relieved that WHCHC considered this, not just for us, but in all of the units,” said Ken. “We really enjoy the community that has been made here. We like participating in the gardening program. It gives us another opportunity to get to know our neighbors.”
Carmen and Lucero are an inspiration. The sisters are proof that stable housing, paired with critical support services, changes lives for the better.
Carmen and Lucero share a unique family dynamic: They’re identical twin sisters, they are each the mother of one child, and both their families live at Vermont Manzanita. Prior to living at a WHCHC apartment community, the sisters grew up in foster care. Once they came of age and had children of their own, they began the transitional housing program designated for former foster youth (transition age youth).
Ready for a beneficial change, Carmen and Lucero moved into Vermont Manzanita with their children. About a year later, both sisters began graduate school at University of Southern California, where they would later graduate with Masters Degrees in Social Work!
“Affordable housing has truly transformed my life. Not only my life, but my entire family and generations to come”, said Carmen. “It’s given me stability. As someone who grew up moving around, it’s been really, really nice.”
Raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Jonathan moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of working in the entertainment industry. He fell on hard times for about three years, becoming homeless and spending months in a local shelter. “I was left in the dark, and I didn’t know where to look.”
Thankfully, Jonathan recently landed right back on his feet when he moved into Rampart Mint. Having just settled into his brand new apartment in mid-November, he is thrilled to have a space to call his own. “I’m getting used to having my own space again. I’m getting used to calling this home.”
Having grown up in foster care, it means a lot to Jonathan to show people that they can achieve their dreams. “I wanted to show people that you can do it: You can transform your life. It’s best if you just allow it, and you put your best foot forward.” With Jonathan settled in to his very own apartment, he’s ready to continue following his passions of making music. “I have my liberty back.”
Angelo is a native New Yorker who spent years living in the area; working as an actor and performing gigs including The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Disneyland. Afraid of being priced of his community as rents started getting higher and higher, he knew it was time to take his next step forward. That’s when he moved into The Courtyard at La Brea, and he has lived there for nearly seven years. “The universe sent me what I needed. It sent me the rent I needed. And the beautiful apartment. It feels like my sanctuary,” Angelo said.
Angelo starts every day with a yoga practice right in the comfort of his apartment. He learned techniques from a yoga program he attended in his apartment community, organized by WHCHC resident services coordinator, Julio. This is one of the many reasons that Angelo feels thankful to be where he is. “Thank god for the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation. That’s seriously all I have to say,” Angelo said, expressing how he feels safe, supported, and happy. “I look out on my patio and thank the universe.”
Born in Russia, Marat arrived in West Hollywood in April 1996 and has called the city home ever since. Marat got his start as a plumber technician, until he began working as a city bus driver for 15 years. Today, Marat happily lives at Hayworth House, the WHCHC apartment community he has called home since 2015. “It’s perfect. I lived in three other places, before living in a WHCHC building, and this one is the best one,” Marat began. “I like it. No problems, a nice community, and RSC Alla is a very nice person."
For three years, LA native Jessica was living out of her car with her boyfriend, Brandon. The couple became homeless when they fell into financial troubles and had to leave their apartment in East Hollywood. Eventually, they saved up enough money for a new place, but their poor credit scores affected their options.
It wasn’t until Jessica received a WHCHC email newsletter that their luck changed—Elden Elms’ application process was open and she was quick to apply. They anxiously awaited the news; eager to become one of the lucky ones to win the lottery. Unbeknownst to them, there were over 2,700 applications received for the 93 units.
Soon enough, Jessica and Brandon were calling Elden Elms home! “It’s been fantastic, we moved in on April 10,” Jessica exclaimed. "I never lived in a brand new building. We have a balcony and a priceless view of downtown LA!”
After a lifetime of employment and then falling into homelessness for two years, getting secure housing has been a miracle. I feel like myself again.
Darnell, Westmore Linden Resident