A is a strong and independent woman who was homeless, living in her truck, for almost 4 years. She is a mother of an adult son and teenage daughter; her ability to spend quality time with her daughter hampered due to not having a home.

In 2016, A had knee surgery, but wasn’t given referrals for physical therapy or any follow up and thus, never properly healed. To this day, she experiences pain especially if sitting too long or walking up stairs. At the time of the surgery, she was working for a school bus company in Santa Rosa. Coincidentally, around the time of the surgery, they lost their contract and moved headquarters to San Rafael, and A lost her job. She would find odd jobs with friends, but just couldn’t make enough to get caught up, and ended up being evicted from her home. In 2018, she found employment just prior to the eviction, but it was too late to stop it. A found herself with no place to go and ended up living and sleeping in her truck. This started her 4 year journey of being homeless.

For those 4 years, A was employed. But every night she would drive around and find a place to park where she could sleep for the night. She would always wait until it was dark before putting up privacy shields so others couldn’t look in. She didn’t want to be seen doing this as she was embarrassed. She would also wake up early to take down the privacy shields, so again she wouldn’t be seen. Luckily, A had a manager who invited her to use his bathroom to shower and her daughter would let her use the shower when her father wasn’t at home. But this was also difficult as it “felt weird” and she was embarrassed. In her subsequent job, there was a janitor’s area where she could wash and dry her hair in the sink before other employees arrived.

During this time, it was also hard for her to spend any quality time with her teenage daughter. Before the eviction, A had her daughter every other weekend. Afterwards, she couldn’t because she was living in her truck and didn’t have a safe place for her daughter to stay. A purchased an air bed and tent just so her daughter could be with her every once in a while. At times, she would splurge on a hotel room, but that got expensive and wasn’t able to happen on a consistent basis. In addition to not having time with her daughter, A had to suffer through hot summers where the truck would be stifling, and hearing people either doing drugs or selling drugs. She said, “I got older every day that I lived in that truck. It was slowly killing me.”

For the first 2 years, A was on the waitlist for housing, having been on the list even before the eviction. But after no forward movement and an email saying that the process had changed and she would need to reapply, A gave up on this and started looking for advocacy groups to help her with the process. After a few phone calls, A was connected with Catholic Charities. But even with the assistance from Catholic Charities it was still another 2 ½ years before she found permanent housing.

Many people experiencing homelessness and looking for permanent housing have difficulty because they have no rental history and are unemployed. A had a job throughout the 4 years she was searching for housing and had rental history in Sonoma County, having been a resident all her life. However, with the one eviction, that history was wiped out. She couldn’t find anyone willing to rent to her even with the support and assistance from Catholic Charities. She would get close several times, and get excited about the possibility of having a home, only to find out it fell through and she was back to square one.

However, it only takes one person willing to take a chance and in December 2022, she found a place to live. A is the first to admit that the place is not ideal (i.e. slanted walls), but is appreciative for what she has and, with her positive attitude and vision of making some upgrades, like painting and fun stained glass film to apply to the windows, she is making it a home for herself. She also appreciates all the perks of where she is living–its is a safe neighborhood, well lit, her neighbors are nice and quiet, and it isn’t far from work.

A is very appreciative of Inspired Spaces Foundation. She said the “team is awesome.” She was so excited talking about all the little details and accessories that were included in the design that fit her personality and style so well and really made it feel personal and homey. She said that she was super grateful and wouldn’t have been able to pick any better. She described the experience as “a blessing” and couldn’t be happier.

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Whether it was escaping abuse, struggling with substance abuse issues and mental health challenges, or lack of income to pay rent, each person has demonstrated strength, resilience, perseverance and courage to ask for help.