We go into their home and we teach them how to cook, budget and shop. We teach them how to launder their clothes. We teach them how to take the bus, and how to get back and forth to different things in the community.
I think personally it would give me a great feeling to know that Beth had a place she could call her home long after we were gone -- and I know that is true of other parents that we know.
The neatest thing about living in my own place is cause I love it here... I can do things on my own.
My dream was always living in a house and I got that dream, and I made that dream come true.
I really like it. This is the best place I ever lived, and my Dad was so happy when we found out about this program and found this place.
HOPE's Opera in the Garden was a celebration of its accomplishments in the area of providing stable, affordable homes for people with developmental disabilities. With a special performance by opera singer, Rebekah Rota, this event raised funds to support the operational and housing expenses at HOPE. A special thank you to all of our donors and Patricia Del Monico for her support in hosting this event.
Roberto Santos admits that he was not always artistic; in fact, he couldn’t draw growing up prior to a car accident that put him in a coma and left him with a traumatic brain injury.
“I don’t know what it was,” he says, “but all of a sudden I could recreate pictures that I saw.”
Roberto lives in a HOPE home in South Gate. He is a tall, young man with kind eyes, and he speaks in a deliberate, thoughtful manner.
On most afternoons you will find him huddled over his sketch book, drawing images of his favorite animals, cartoon characters, and sports teams.
Living with traumatic brain injury means living with physical, cognitive, or behavioral symptoms that can include confusion, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and headaches, just to name a few. Roberto shares that he turns to his art when he is uneasy or frustrated.
“When I finish a drawing it actually makes me feel better…that I was able to take the time and effort to do something positive.”
Currently his art work is spread out on a table in his kitchen. This room is his favorite place to draw and where he creates most of his work. The space is clutter free with wide windows, and an abundance of natural light. Roberto takes a seat and opens a large portfolio. He begins to methodically finger through drawings, periodically pausing to show his renderings of the iconic cartoon characters Mario, Yoshi, and Pikachu. Next up are the characters of the show Family Guy, then Dracula and a few unfinished pieces he is still working to complete.
His excitement grows as he comes across the drawings he created for HOPE. A few months back Roberto was asked to consider what having safe, stable housing meant to him, and if he wouldn’t mind creating a few “Home” themed drawings that represent those feelings. He graciously agreed and was excited about the idea that his work might be used by HOPE to raise awareness and promote our mission.
They drawings are idyllic depictions of homes-- some on quaint neighborhood streets, while others stand alone with strong roofs and mosaic shaped walls. His drawing style is warm, charming, and containing whimsical tones that might leave a viewer nostalgic for his or her childhood home.
He sees himself continuing to pursue art well into the future because he also believes it is a way to connect with people in his life. He enjoys creating drawings as gifts for friends, but then breaks with this chain of thought to share how art also creates a bridge to cherished family memories. Roberto brings out a drawing of a long, pink flamingo. He tells of how it represents his grandmother who passed away several years ago. “We spread her ashes at the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas. She loved it there, so I made this to honor her.”
To Roberto, art is therapeutic. It calms his irritability, it is an outlet for his memories, a way to show respect to his family, and an opportunity to contribute something beautiful to his community. His talent and motivations are inspiring to HOPE, and they perfectly demonstrate how providing stable, affordable housing can play a role in empowering people with developmental disabilities to use their many abilities to reach their full potential.
Homes are an essential part of our lives. They can invoke the feeling of warmth, family, security, and joy. It is important to also be mindful of their immense environmental impact. The nonprofit housing sector acknowledges this issue and must collectively take steps to contribute to a solution. Back in April, HOPE announced an initiative to partner with Solar City in an effort provide housing that increasingly “treads lightly on the earth.” During the final week of June and first two weeks in July, multiple teams of technicians from Solar City were onsite installing solar power systems at 11 HOPE homes in the cities of Norwalk and Long Beach.
Solar City is a full-service solar provider and national industry leader. Their solar photovoltaic panels generate energy at a lower cost that energy generated from coal, oil, and natural gas. They are a full service firm that facilitates planning, permitting, instillation, ongoing monitoring, and repairs as needed. For HOPE, who is leasing the equipment from Solar City, it was important to partner with a company with a long track record of guaranteeing stable energy sources for residents at an increasingly affordable rate. Estimates have projected a 30-35% decrease in energy expenses.
HOPE prides itself on owning the best maintained home on the block. Property improvements are scheduled to ensure safety for our residents, but also to maintain the value of our housing stock. Associate Director at HOPE, Denise Fanelli, informed that in recently years HOPE had enhanced HVAC systems in many of these homes. “Air conditioning is so important to our elderly residents, as well as those tenants with serious medical conditions. Leadership at HOPE felt it was important to counteract any increase in energy usage in our portfolio due to installing these units.” Utilizing solar panels at these homes does just that.
We are proud of this decision to continue to implement environmentally friendly and fiscally sound investments in the lives of our residents and community. Our objective has been achieved by decreasing our use of carbon based electricity while lowering utility costs for our tenants.
Vernon Andrews lives in a HOPE home on a sleepy street in the Stearns Park community of Long Beach. His kindly, calm demeanor seems an appropriate fit for this quiet suburban neighborhood.
At 53 years of age, Vernon is proud to disclose that he has lived independently for 26 years. Early in 2016 though, prior to moving into his current HOPE home, this independence was at risk. Vernon found himself in a situation where he could no longer afford his market-rate apartment in Bellflower.
“I needed to move because I couldn’t afford to pay rent over there,” he said.
For many years Vernon’s mother helped him pay rent each month. Continued increases though put greater and greater pressure on his aging parent’s fixed income. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a medium priced 1-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles County is $1,154 per month. In order to afford this rent, an income earner must make $22.19 an hour. As time went by, Vernon’s rent finally hit a point where his mother could no longer financially support him to remain in his home.
With limited options in finding a decent, affordable place to live on his own, Vernon turned to HOPE Inc. In May of 2016 an opening became available for Vernon to move into the two-bedroom house where he lives today with one other HOPE resident. The best part-- he pays $232 on rent. This falls within 1/3 of his income.
The stability of this housing empowers Vernon to continue to learn, grow, and develop to the fullest of his capabilities.
A first impression of Vernon is misleading; because his gentle manner hides an inquisitive and adventurous spirit. After moving to his new home in Long Beach he wasted little time in venturing outdoors to explore. “My favorite place to go is the library,” Vernon said. He adds that he found the library, grocery store, and mall all on his own. He likes walking, bicycling, and riding the bus to find new places.
Vernon had to start over learning about his new community since moving from his longtime neighborhood in Bellflower. His positive attitude viewed this challenge as an adventure.
Vernon loves his new home though, and says his favorite places are his bedroom and garden. He knows he doesn’t have a green thumb, so he doesn’t have any plants inside, but he enjoys looking at the beautiful plants in the front yard.
Vernon of course misses his old home, but feels he is settling in nicely and is appreciative of Harbor Regional Center for referring him to HOPE, his service providers at Life Steps Foundation for assisting with the move, and HOPE for providing him with this opportunity to continue to live independently.
What’s next to explore for Vernon? He says now that he has stable housing, he wants to once again find a job as a maintenance worker in his new city. His goal is to be a fully participating member of society, and HOPE is excited to support Vernon in reaching his full potential.
On Wednesday, June 15th, the California Legislature passed a $122 billion budget for 2016-2017. Several key programs were funded that address affordable housing and homelessness in our state.
This is welcome news as Sacramento’s Legislative Analyst’s Office recently released its second report in 12 months, “Perspectives on Helping Low-Income Californians Afford Housing.” In it, Mac Taylor echoes what organizers, elected officials, the business sector, and community members have known for years, that “California has a serious housing shortage. California’s housing costs, consequently, have been rising rapidly for decades. These high housing costs make it difficult for many Californians to find housing that is affordable and that meets their needs, forcing them to make serious trade–offs in order to live in California.”
Efforts to advocate for affordable housing at our Capital are championed by Southern California Association of Non Profit Housing (SCANPH) and Housing California. While there is still work to be done around initiatives like No Place Like Home (NPLH), funding to support the below programs is a positive step in the right direction.
California Emergency Solutions Grants: $45 million to focus on funding rapid re-housing programs throughout California.
Bringing Families Homes: $10 million to fund and create a program that connects homeless and formerly incarcerated parents with children in foster care in safe, stable, and affordable homes.
CalWORKs Housing Support Program: $47 million, an increase of $12 million, to fund the rapid re-houses homeless families with children.
State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC): Program encourages the investment of private equity in the development of affordable rental housing for low-income household. This is the cost to the state for the process in SB 873(Beall).
No Place Like Home (NPLH): $2 Billion Mental Health Services (MHSA) Bond provides funds for $45 million one-time funding for Emergency Solutions Grants to fund rapid-rehousing activities throughout the state.
This is good news for housing in California. Although the Budget Bill was passed by the legislation, NPLH will be decided and voted on after the passage of the budget. This proposal allocates a small percentage of Proposition 63 (2004) funding to finance permanent supportive housing specifically for those who live with a serious mental illness and live on the streets. The Senate and Assembly both need 2/3 of the members to vote in favor for it to pass.