Each month we interview a current or past Thrive Central Oregon service user to shed light on the breadth of experiences that folks have in our community, as well as the services we provide. This month Kendall chatted with Bend resident Linda (name changed for privacy) , who tells us about her experience navigating the housing market and how Thrive assisted her in locating a rental that she would like to be her forever home.
Linda is a senior living in Bend, and worked with Thrive Central Oregon for almost 2 years while she was looking for sustainable housing. Linda is a joy to talk to and work with, and has a wealth of experience in both her professional and personal life.
Linda lives with Bipolar Disorder 1, and though she was diagnosed as a teenager, she was able to manage her symptoms well into young adulthood. She graduated from college and got married, had children, and completed law school- obtaining a law degree and practicing for several years. However, in the mid 1990s the symptoms of her manic depression returned, and she wasn't able to maintain employment, got a divorce, and lost her housing.
After several years of struggling with her mental health, Linda was approved for Social Security Disability Income. She then moved to Central Oregon, with the intention of caring for her young granddaughter and finding housing of her own. However, she quickly realized how difficult the housing market was, especially for someone with a limited income, and applied for a Housing Choice Voucher through Housing Works.
It took 4-5 years to finally receive a Housing Voucher, and when Linda received it- she was overjoyed! She applied to many rentals, only to find that the nicest ones had long wait lists or were immediately snatched up by other renters. She ended up renting what she calls "a really dumpy" apartment- once with mice and a toilet that didn't flush. To make matters worse, when she contacted management about the issues, they didn't help.
Around this time, Linda started calling every agency she could asking for help. One day while she was in the Downtown Bend Library, she saw a flyer for Thrive and decided to check it out. Though Linda had a fairly even mood when she first met with Thrive, the distress of her living situation definitely caused her mood stability to waver. She prioritized her housing as her main focus for her work with Thrive, and they got to it!
Thrive helped Linda to connect with many resources in the area, starting with a referral to Legal Aid Services for her maintenance issues, connected with her therapist for a safety plan, helped her apply for new rentals, and provided consistent support. Today, she lives in her #1 choice apartment in Bend: one where she feels comfortable, safe, where her neighbors are kind and welcoming, and she is close to everything she needs.
Words from Linda:
"[Thrive] treated me with dignity and respect and compassion- [they] never made me feel like I was stupid or lesser than, because I have brain injuries and sometimes people make you feel like you're dumb and treat you differently. To me, the people that are successful working with Thrive are the people that meet [Community Outreach Advocates] halfway. If you come, and bring your things prepared, they will work as hard for you as you put into it.
"If Thrive couldn’t help, they helped guide me to resources in the community that could help. It’s Thrive’s job to know the resources that are available, and to know when there isn’t something available. "
"[The Thrive advocate that worked with me] never gave up on me, always left me feeling like we would find a solution even though it might take a while. [They] taught me patience, perseverance and gave me hope."