Stories from our Residents – December 2021

As we near the end of 2021, we wanted to share stories from three of our residents. These stories show the wide range of households who benefit from living in RCD’s stable and deeply affordable housing – a mother searching for a permanent home for her children, a veteran finally being able to access healthcare, and a family facing common challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

A New Home for Maria

Maria and her daughter

For several years, Maria and her children struggled to find affordable housing in the skyrocketing rental market of the South Bay Area, an issue that was compounded when Maria and her ex-husband split up.

When she lost her home, Maria continued to work tirelessly to ensure her daughters were well cared for and ready for school, taking care of them during the day and sending them to their father’s rented room to sleep each night while she slept in a van parked near the highway. 

Everything changed when Maria learned about Quetzal Gardens, RCD’s newest affordable housing community and our first in Santa Clara County. She was thrilled when her application was accepted and they would finally have a home of their own in early November.

After three years of living in a van, Maria’s younger daughter Yelani (8) was counting down the days until they could move into their new apartment at Quetzal Gardens in San Jose. 

“She was so happy,” says Maria, “that she couldn’t sleep the night before. She woke me up at 6am ready to go! I had to tell her our appointment wasn’t until 11am. We were so just happy to move in.”

Yelani is overjoyed to have their new apartment. “Now I have my own room! It feels super different. There is even a playground outside,” she says beaming. 

Quetzal Gardens interior courtyard

Grand’s Journey to a Stable Home

Maria and her daughter

For Grand, moving into Embark Apartments in Oakland put his life on a fresh trajectory.  After leaving the United States Navy in 2013, he returned to his native Bay Area but struggled to find safe and stable housing. For over seven years, Grand moved between temporary homes and shelters in search of an affordable, permanent home. 

“Before moving into Embark Apartments, I was moving between homes and spending a lot of time in shelters. It was a harsh life. I had to carry all my stuff everywhere and most of the time I only had a cot to sleep in.”

In January 2020, Grand was living in month-to-month housing when a car hit him. He had to leave his home and move into shelters. He was there at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he struggled to get the medical and mental health care he needed.

“When I finally got here, I was so close to the Oakland VA health clinic and was finally able to get the care I needed… right across the street. I was also able to access nearby consistent behavioral health services for the first time.”

Grand appreciates living in a community dedicated to serving veterans. He’s participating with groups and connecting with other residents who understand his experiences.

“Since moving to Embark, my life has definitely changed. I have less stress, I’m working, I’m happy and I’m thriving.”

Exterior of Embark

José Gives Thanks to RCD’s Resident Service Program

Exterior of Embark

José and his family moved into RCD’s Arbors Apartments in Richmond eight years ago. He and his wife are raising three sons, and they appreciate the community’s amenities and close proximity to transit, schools and parks.

“I got so lucky years ago. It’s the best apartment I’ve had in my life,” says José. “I never want to leave!”

When the pandemic began, José was deeply concerned for his family’s welfare. When he was furloughed from his job as a jockey valet, his family’s sole income suddenly vanished. Fortunately, he had a lifeline in the form of Alecia, one of RCD’s resident services coordinators. He had not known he was eligible for unemployment, and she worked closely with him to navigate the complex system and connect his family with food programs.

Thankfully, José was able to return to work a few months later but he will always remember and appreciate her support during that uncertain and scary time.

“Alecia is one of the greatest people. She helped me so much over the years,” says José. He and his three eligible family members were also able to get their COVID vaccines on site last spring thanks to RCD’s resident services.

exterior of Arbors

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