“I Was All Alone”— Barbara K. from LA shares her story

“I moved from Panama to the United States about 15 years ago alone without any family members or support network.  After meeting my boyfriend, I started a family with him and raised two little boys. Gradually, the father of my children became emotionally abusive. I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t move in with my family—they still lived in Panama. I knew I had to leave for my family’s well-being.

I was lucky and found a rent-controlled one bedroom apartment. After a few years, my landlord wanted to substantially raise the rent, so he attempted to evict my family multiple times for spurious reasons. I was given a choice: Pay market rate or leave.*

I lost my home, so my abusive ex gained full custody of my children. To make matters worse, my car got repossessed because I could not make the payments while I was enrolled in a full time nursing program.

“Many communities refuse to build homes in their neighborhoods. I hope that one day communities will open their doors & provide shelter for all people—not just the wealthy.” – Barbara K.

For two years, after finishing the program, I was forced to sleep in my car (which I had to purchase after my last vehicle was repossessed), friends of friend’s places, or in homeless shelters. I tried everything I could to get back on my feet—I worked construction & cleaned homes.  I moved around a lot living with various former roommates trying to make ends meet.

Because my credit tanked due to my car being repossessed I found it difficult to secure housing.  I spent years working to improve my financial situation.

It wasn’t until I secured housing with a client through nursing was I able to find a stable living situation. I lived at my client’s home providing full time care. Unfortunately, my housing situation was completely dependent on my job, any changes to my career will put me back on the streets. Luckily, I was able to save up for a deposit and get into a new apartment.

For the last two years, I experienced how difficult it was to secure affordable housing in California. It takes two incomes to survive here. Many women are currently forced into abusive relationships to afford a roof over their heads.

Many communities refuse to build homes in their neighborhoods. I hope that one day communities will open their doors & provide shelter for all people—not just the wealthy.

It’s time for California to do the right thing and build more affordable housing for everyone.”

*The landlord was breaking the law by evicting Barbara from her home.

Women of Color are disproportionately impacted by California’s housing crisis. Read California YIMBY’s Women of Color report today.

 

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