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.
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.
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.
Deaka McClain aspires to a career in public service. So when she heard about a community forum in her neighborhood that featured two leading political candidates speaking on an issue she cares about-- the pressing need for affordable housing-- she was eager to register. The morning of the event though, Deaka felt under the weather and reluctantly called her contact at HOPE to tell them she most likely would miss the event.
For many years now Deaka has used her strengths and passion for public service to tirelessly advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations in her community. But maybe a break from her activism for one night was in order.
Deaka has lived in a HOPE home since 2001. So naturally that particular evening she wanted to show her support for an issue that is close to her heart. "For me to have my own place means peace of mind and independence," Deaka said.
“I sit on the Client Advisory Committee at Harbor Regional Center, and recently we talked about the challenges that people with disabilities are facing in finding affordable housing…that if you are not with HOPE, the rent is too expensive. You know we have some clients that are homeless because they can’t afford market rent?”
It is trademark Deaka that even though she has access to affordable housing through HOPE, her concern is with others who do not. That is because she knows how challenging the issue has been in her own life.
“When we were having this discussion,” she continued, “It made me think about how fortunate I am to say that I live in a HOPE home. Everyone doesn’t have that opportunity, and I realize that actually, HOPE saved my life.”
Prior to moving in with HOPE, Deaka bounced between different family members’ homes. She stayed for a while with in-laws during her marriage. Unfortunately that living situation deteriorated and became unhealthy. After her divorce, Deaka was forced to look for other options. She quickly became discouraged as it was all too apparent that someone with her resources had few options in finding a safe, stable, and affordable home.
She is grateful that around that time Harbor Regional Center introduced her to HOPE. In a matter of six months Deaka was given the chance to move into a HOPE home. She said, “If I hadn’t been given that opportunity, I know I wouldn’t have the life I have today.”
She feels that because she received stable, affordable housing she no longer stressed about where she would sleep each night. For the first time in many years this allowed her to focus on school.
“Before I moved into a HOPE home, I couldn’t even think about school,” she said. “I was so worried about my home life. That all changed. I was now free to go to school and get my work done.”
Just last month Deaka received her master’s degree in public policy and administration from CSULB. Though her education is a reward in and of itself, she has parlayed this achievement into her advocacy work in the community. Deaka has sat on the boards and committees of several public service organizations.
She has been a member of the Harbor Regional Center’s Client Advisory Committee, Client Services Committee, and Self Determination Committee. She has also sat on the City of Long Beach’s Citizens Advisory Commission on Disabilities, LA CARE’s Health Care Advisory Committee, Disability Rights of California’s Program and Planning Committee, and California State University’s Systemwide Advisory Committee on Services for Students with Disabilities.
“It worked out for me,” Deaka admitted, “but everyone isn’t fortunate like that. HOPE provided me a place to stay, but it also provides me a place to stay within the means of my income. If I was to move today, I couldn’t afford to live in a regular studio.”
Deaka ended up attending the community forum after all. She sat toward the front the auditorium and heard the candidates give their visions of a Los Angeles County that is moving toward an end to homelessness and creating greater access to affordable housing.
When asked about her attendance at the event, in spite of being sick. All she could say was, “This is where I need to be.”
HOPE is proud to have co-chaired the planning committee for the Long Beach Affordable Housing Developers Roundtable that took place on April 7th. This event was organized in partnership with Long Beach Housing and RTLB. Turnout was excellent, with representatives from many major affordable housing organizations, including Century Housing, Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles, LINC Housing, Jamboree Housing, and Abode Communities. Former Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal spoke and discussed Mayor Garcia's task force on housing and homelessness in which she chairs. The purpose of this roundtable is to create an environment that fosters collaboration, secures additional resources, creates innovative development models, promotes good policy, and educates the public on how affordable homes are essential to the health and economic success of our city. HOPE is excited to be a part of the conversation!