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
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.”
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.
In Loving Memory
Central Casting couldn’t have filled the role better: Vivacious, Senior, Aging-in-Place. John moved into the Harper Avenue Apartments in 1952. John was a dancer, choreographer, and actor, John appeared in some of Hollywood’s most iconic films, including Singing in the Rain and West Side Story.
After retiring from dancing, John taught dance and theatre workshops for children, teens, and adults. John also hosted an interview show on West Hollywood’s local cable channel for nearly twenty years. In honor of his 90th birthday, and his many contributions to the community, the City of West Hollywood declared June 24, 2012, “John Angelo Day.”
In an interview, John was asked about his philosophy on life. He said that he looked to his Bahá’í faith for guidance. “Live as if all people in the world are one, because we are. The things that divide us are an illusion. The world would be a better place if we all did that.” We feel fortunate that John was a community member for over 67 years – we will miss him.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.”
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