K is a single mother of 3 beautiful children who suffered the cycle of homelessness due to domestic violence. Her first experience with homelessness occurred when CPS stepped in and sent her and her child to an emergency shelter because of domestic violence. Her husband was incarcerated and she went to live with her mother. Over the next few years, K went through the cycle of returning to her husband after he was released, leaving because of violence, returning to her mother’s home, and repeating the pattern. During this time, she had two more children with her husband. She finally left her husband permanently and, after a time, needed to leave her mother’s home. In December 2021, she was truly on her own and homeless. For the next 10 months, K and her children lived in extended stay hotels, changing rooms, and at times, hotels, on an almost weekly basis. Towards the end of that time, she did move to a transitional housing situation before moving into her permanent home.
K shared all the obstacles she faced while trying to gain housing. Obtaining a housing voucher was a struggle in and of itself. Then, once she had it, she faced landlords not wanting to rent to her due to no rental history, bad credit, no income, and the fact that few landlords know what a housing voucher is or how to work with it. K kept persevering, though, participating in training through SonomaWorks that taught how to talk with landlords and present herself, and how to educate those folks on housing vouchers and how Sonoma County will supplement rent, rental deposit, etc. K was on her third extension with her housing voucher before being approved for her apartment.
In addition to all the logistical challenges of finding housing and the stress caused from this; navigating hopping from room to room and hotel to hotel with 3 small children, K needed to care and work with her son, who is on the autism spectrum, through the lack of stability, structure and predictability key to individuals living with autism. K had to always be aware of how the lack of any consistent schedule impacted her son and could lead to outbursts. She originally refused transitional housing because she didn’t know how her son would react to the other residents, or how, if and when he would have an outburst, how the residents would respond to him. But she came to realize that the situation with the hotels was unmanageable and needed to change their environment. She shared that the other residents were amazing and supportive, and she and her children had a very positive experience.
K expressed her appreciation and gratitude to Inspired Spaces Foundation for furnishing her home and helping to create that stability, security and stability so important to her son but also just as important to her two small daughters. She is enjoying being able to settle into her home, relax and start to breathe again. She is having fun being able to rearrange some of the furnishing and having the freedom to do just that without the looming certainty of needing to pack up to change spaces she experienced in the hotels. She shared that there was a weekend where she never left her home, just stayed and watched TV. She then realized that Monday had rolled around and her children had also not left the apartment. She chuckled and said that she became aware that she should probably take them outside so they could play. She was just enjoying her space, knowing that it was hers.
Settling into her new home, fully furnished, she is now able to focus on getting her son some in-home services to help him learn strategies to navigate his environment. She had started the process when he was a toddler, noticing that something wasn’t quite right. She had him tested and received a diagnosis very early, but with everything she was going through, the time and space to get him the services he needed just wasn’t feasible. With all the tireless work she put into getting permanent housing and then with Inspired Spaces Foundation furnishing it, K is on a new journey to create a foundation for her children to experience home, security, and structure to flourish and truly have a fresh start.