Vernon Andrews: Affordable Housing Creates Independence and Adventure
by IAN NEVAREZ
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.