Last month we featured the story of Jessica. During the Vista 44 launch event last month, Jessica shared her story of finding home at Audobon Crossing. The following is the text from her speech.
Hello! My name is Jessica Lopez, and I’m so happy to be with you again tonight, Beacon! I get to talk tonight about the difference living at Audubon Crossing has made in my life. I’ve lived at Audubon Crossing for eight years, which is the longest I’ve lived in one place as an adult. I first came to Audubon through Families Moving Forward. Early in September 2010, my advocate called me into the office to tell my application at Audubon had been accepted, and I would be moving in the next day! I cried – I was so happy! When I first moved in with my two small boys, all we had were our clothes, a few toys, lots of blankets, and a few dishes. But it was home! That night, my oldest said to me, “I just realized, it’s 5 o’clock, and we don’t have to go anywhere!” That’s when I knew we were home.
My rent had been too expensive before. I had become homeless with two little kids and had to figure things out. It was scary. I was worried. But now that I’m at Audubon, I know my rent is okay. Making it affordable means my money can go to other basics. I’ve worked with my advocate to get ahead on my bills and to set a budget so they’re easier to manage. Meeting with my advocate helps keep my needs and tasks in the front of my mind. They are amazing. It’s amazing to know I have someone to call. Sometimes it feels lonely, but I know I can call and talk whenever I need. Just to figure things out. Having people I can trust around me reminds me I’m not alone.
When I first started working with my advocate, we were meeting every other week. We were getting things figured out. They helped me build a foundation. Now, we only need to meet when I reach out. Sometimes more than a month passes before we talk because I’ve got my days settled, I’ve got my budget settled, I’ve got access to the other things I need. If I could have the mentality that I have now when I was younger, WOO! I’d be rich! I believe in myself now – I know I can do this!
Living at Audubon has been great for me and my boys. I was able to help out at their school. Now they’re only three blocks away from the bus stop for school. I’ve been working for the Minneapolis district schools now for four years and can get on a bus that takes me right to work. Buses go everywhere from just a block away: downtown, shopping, grocery. I’ve got great stores and places to eat right in the neighborhood. Where you live really does matter!
I want to see more homes like Audubon Crossing. The biggest benefit of having support means the number of families who are homeless can do down. When I read, I see how many people here are homeless, and I’m in tears. I work in a high school cafeteria, and I know I might be feeding kids, some of my kids at my school, they could be homeless. And that breaks my heart. I think about my boys, and how fortunate we are to have a safe place to call home, and I want that for all of my kids, all of the kids at my school. So many people are pushing so hard just to try to get by, and they deserve better.
That’s why I’m excited Beacon is getting ready to build these new homes at Vista 44. Just like Audubon Crossing, they’ll be where families need them and have advocates to help figure things out. Thank you for doing this, and thank you for the chance to talk with you tonight!