Jill is trim and petite, her thick blond hair pulled back into a ponytail with a few curly tendrils framing her face. She’s with Sugar, her little dog, who greets a visitor clearly expecting to be loved.
Jill has struggled to keep stable housing in the past, staying with her mother or at shelters. This March, she will have lived at Lydia Apartments for 11 years.
Lydia is permanent supportive housing for adults who have experienced homelessness and have a disability.
Jill and Sugar take daily walks on several favorite routes in the parks and neighborhoods near Lydia Apartments. “We go somewhere new every day,” she said.
Besides housing, getting a job was on Jill’s wish list. She worked at a fast food restaurant for about a year in order to build her resume. “It wasn’t a good fit but I did it so I’d have a good reference,” Jill said. Besides, she made barely above minimum wage.
Today Jill earns $15 an hour at Sam’s Club through Advantage Sales and Marketing (ASM). She hands out samples of food to interest shoppers. (“Anything the vendor wants to sell,” she says, ticking off a list: pastries, yogurt, crackers and cheese, desserts, chips.) She’s been with ASM for more than four years, working one or two days a week except during the holiday rush of November and December, when her schedule ramps up to six days a week.
Jill has been able to furnish her apartment with a couch, new bed, dressers, a computer and most recently, a new rug. She appreciates the building’s free parking, where her car tires won’t get “popped” like they used to when she lived downtown in temporary quarters. It’s fairly close to her church, the Basilica of St. Mary. She’s made friends in the building and socializes at weekly coffee hours.
“Everything I prayed for, I got here,” Jill said.