“C” is a young, single mom with a 17 month old son. She has been homeless on and off since about 2017. When she wasn’t homeless, she was still “crowding into someone else’s space” which was frustrating, trying to make it work. It became more challenging once she had her son, as, she described, a lot of people don’t want to live with a baby, or even near a baby. Finding an apartment was “awesome” as it provided stability for her son; a place where he could wake up everyday and have a routine. She believes this is especially important when things come up that may be difficult for a toddler to cope with. This stability gives her son a lot of peace which is healthy for his growth. Having her own space and not having to accommodate others or be in a “rugged” situation has been really nice. Being able to give her son a bath everyday is something she is “super” grateful for.

Prior to the Foundation furnishing their apartment, C’s son always wanted to be in mom’s bed, even though he had his own. As part of the design, he got a dinosaur comforter and bed set. When he saw the dinosaurs, he immediately sat on the bed with the biggest grin on his face. She said he now recognizes the bed as his own, with his pillow and his blanket. It has become his comfort zone and he easily transitioned to sleeping in his own bed.

In the past, C was not aware that there were programs to help her. Sometimes living out of her car, scraping by from job to job, she didn’t have the necessities to keep up with hygiene or have the basic amenities, such as kitchen utensils. She would have loved to know earlier that there were resources available. She stated that Sonoma County has been an amazing support to her and helped her get to where she is. She shared that there are a lot of resources out there to help people experiencing homelessness, and even additional resources to provide assistance to mothers and their children.

C became aware of these resources, and first accessed them, when she found herself in a “bad” situation where she felt uncomfortable. She shared having a friend who took her in to help her get back on her feet. She thought she would be going to a healthier place to live. Instead when she arrived, it was not safe for her son, her friend was not respectful of her baby’s needs and smoked around her and the baby. Thankfully, she had another friend who helped her leave this situation and connect her with Sonoma County services, as she still had no housing options.

She described how difficult it was to navigate the system to find housing, and wondered at how many people experiencing homelessness, lacked the skills to know what to look for and how to go about finding resources. Even if you know how to maneuver through the process, it is still very hard to get approved for housing due to such things as lack of references to note on rental applications and little or poor credit history. C found that not a lot of people want to rent to someone that doesn’t have the “paper trail” to make them good candidates for becoming tenants. Moreover, the process is exacerbated by having to come up with the application fees per each application. The costs pile up. At times, she felt like giving up because of her applications being declined a majority of the time. C went through this cycle of looking, applying and being denied for 3 months prior to getting her current home. Due to the support of such services as SonomaWorks, she received the assistance with gas and application fees, but more so by the encouragement of her “amazing case worker.”

C wants her journey to be inspiring to others. Even though it is a difficult system to navigate, she wants to encourage others to keep going and not to give up. She sees herself as a perfect example of someone who didn’t have the “paper trail,” but through hard work and tenacity, she was able to obtain permanent housing. She says she is grateful for Inspired Spaces Foundation because once getting into the new apartment, she still only had a budget to cover basic necessities. She said it would have been almost impossible to purchase furniture and other items to create a comfortable living space for her and her son.

Now that C and her son are settled into their home, she can focus on finding childcare and start looking for a job, or possibly going to school to study early childhood education. She is participating in JobLinks and has applied for scholarships. She shared that by leaving situations that were unhealthy, and finding permanent housing, she is now able to focus on her son in a safer and more supportive environment. She wants to live a joyful life and surround herself with like-minded people.

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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.