Updated: Jan 4
This month we chat with Bend resident Maria, who recently moved into one of our community's newest affordable housing complexes.
A few years ago, Maria was living in a subsidized apartment when there was a fire. She was asked to leave, and thought she was experiencing an eviction. Without a home for the first time, the 35-year resident of Central Oregon quickly realized that the rental landscape had changed dramatically since she previously had to look for a home. Finding something that she could afford on a fixed, Social Security income had become impossible, and she didn't know where to turn.
Unsure of what to do, she started paying for weekly rentals in motels. When she was unable to afford motels, she would check in to the Bethlehem Inn for a little while and save up again for another motel stay. But staying in motels was costly, and not just financially. Because motel rooms don't have a kitchen, she was forced to forgo healthy food (she loves to cook), and would often have to sacrifice meals so that she could have a safe, warm place to sleep at night. Her physical and emotional health suffered, with so little consistency and days spent worrying about how she would be able to make it.
Though Maria reached out to several agencies for assistance without response, she was finally able to connect with Johannah from Thrive after being referred by several friends. When she reached out to Thrive last April, the first thing they discussed was what Maria believed to be the eviction from her last rental. This was keeping her from applying to housing, for fear of being denied. Johannah explained that sometimes what a renter thinks is an eviction may not have actually gone through the courts.
After digging deeper, the two discovered that what Maria thought was an eviction was actually not! Knowing this crucial piece of information allowed Maria to start applying to affordable properties without fear, and it planted a seed of hope.
About a month ago, Maria's name came up on the waitlist for a brand new affordable complex in Bend, and she was able to move in last month. After 2 1/2 years of not knowing where she would sleep at night, or how she could keep going, Maria says:
"I’m still mesmerized by it. Wow, I’m here. Is this really real?"
Being a Latinx woman from Texas, one of the things she missed most while experiencing homelessness was home-cooked rice and beans. She could not have been more excited to have her first pot of homemade beans, rice and tortillas ♡