On May 21, we asked four of our tenants to speak to the Wake County Commissioners in support of the increase in affordable housing proposed in the county’s FY19 budget. Read their remarks below.
Good afternoon Commissioners, staff members, and all Wake County government personnel. My name is Tangie Thompson. I am proud to have the opportunity to share and hopefully encourage the commissioners to increase funding in the upcoming budget for low income families and individuals with disabilities.
As a person living with disabilities, I can attest personally how CASA, and other county services that reach out to the homeless and low income families, has been a lifeline to me. After several years of homelessness and battling depression and PTSD, programs like CASA gave me a place where I could feel safe – a place to call my own. Whereas each individual case has their own story to tell, the one thing we all have in common is wanting a roof over our head, somewhere to lay down at night and not worry about being sexually assaulted or mistreated.
CASA has helped me establish a foundation for a second chapter in my life by providing the basic essentials that we all want and need – the fulfillment of the American dream, a welcome mat, and a key to a new life.
Thank you for your time and patience in allowing me to share just a portion of my gratitude for CASA and other programs in Wake County Services that have helped me. It is not an easy thing to sit and re-hash the disappointment and hurt that one has been through with friends, let alone strangers – but I hope my words today will impose the necessity for more dollars to be invested in our brothers and sisters in Wake County who struggle with being homeless and its consequences. As we continue to build bridges to bring more companies and jobs to the region, let us not forget our most important job – to build and support individuals and families less fortunate!!
Hello, my name is Michael White and I am a formerly homeless, disabled Vietnam era veteran.
I am currently living in a CASA complex, Hulls Landing, which is designated for formerly homeless and disabled veterans. In late 2014 I became permanently, or so it seemed homeless, which led to sleeping in a storage unit on an air mattress, in shelters or on buses.
A Raleigh police officer introduced me to an agency, CASA, that assists homeless veterans and a process called HUD VASH, which assists veterans with housing and funding for this housing – which in looking back saved my life.
After meeting with CASA and my VA caseworker I received a HUD VASH voucher in Aug 2015, but the assurance of finding an apartment was far from guaranteed. The task at hand was finding someone to accept this voucher, which until CASA offered me an apartment no one would accept my voucher.
Through this process I was able to secure housing in a CASA property in Raleigh, a community that supports all of its members, and the knowledge that I would never suffer from homelessness again.
The housing offered in these vouchers is in either Section 8 housing or through agencies like CASA which have pre-existing veterans housing. The problem is with an ever-growing amount of homeless vets while the facilities that accept section 8 vouchers or public housing is reducing. That is where your help is needed. Help the veterans and poor of our community.
I am here to ask you to support the proposed increase in spending to end veteran homelessness in our community. Thank you for your time.
Good evening. My name is Sharon Jones. I live in a CASA apartment in Raleigh with my daughter, who is in the sixth grade.
I’m here tonight to ask you to support the proposed budget because of the commitment to affordable housing. The opportunity to live in an affordable apartment has changed my life and my daughter’s life. I want other families to have the same opportunity.
When my daughter was little, we lived in a trailer in Johnson County. It was full of black mold. I begged our landlord to do something about the mold, but he refused. When my daughter started getting sick, I decided we had to move. We stayed with family some, and when that didn’t work out anymore, we moved to Raleigh and stayed in shelters. There were nights when we couldn’t get a bed, and we had to go back to Johnson County and sleep in that trailer. I felt like less than a mother, like I couldn’t take care of my child.
Eventually we were awarded a spot in a program for homeless families with children. From there, our case managers helped us apply to an apartment with CASA. We were so excited to move somewhere that wasn’t temporary – we can stay in our CASA apartment as long as we pay the rent and follow the rules.
Our apartment has changed everything for us. My daughter and I each have our own room. My daughter joined the Girl Scouts and other after school activities that she wouldn’t be able to participate in if we were still lining up in the afternoon for a bed at a shelter. She’s a happy and healthy kid. I’m proud of her and I’m proud that I’m her mom and I can provide a safe place for her to grow up.
Having an apartment also meant that I could pursue my lifelong dream of going to school. I graduated with my associate’s degree last year, and now I am working on my paralegal certificate. I hope to go to law school one day.
I pay 30% of my income on my rent. That means there is money left over for groceries, doctor’s visits, or taking my daughter out to eat every once in a while. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll be able to stay in our apartment, because I know I’ll always be able to afford it.
I know that there are so many mothers like me, who struggle to find a stable and safe place to raise their children. We need more options for families who are trying to make ends meet, who just want to keep their children safe and healthy.
Please support the 15 million dollars for affordable housing in the county budget. It will save lives and help families like mine. Thank you for listening.
Good evening. My name is Davonne Halls, and I live in a CASA apartment in Raleigh.
I am here today to ask you to support the proposed increase in spending for affordable housing. The increase will mean more apartments for people like me.
I moved to Raleigh five years ago. I came here because I was changing my life in order to escape and heal from drug addiction. When I arrived, I had nowhere to live. While I was a the shelter, a counselor helped me connect to CASA.
At first when I moved into my new apartment, I didn’t really like it. It was different and strange to me and hard to get used to. But I realized that God put me here for a reason. It’s a safe haven for me.
It has taken me several years to really appreciate how much my apartment has helped me. I pay 30% of my income on my housing now, which helps me a lot with my budget. Even though sometimes I get off track, having a stable apartment helps me learn from my mistakes and move on.
My apartment has helped me regain my self-respect. Also, living with CASA means that I know that I am not alone. The staff is wonderful and they help me with a lot of things. They really believe in me. Living there puts my mind at ease and makes me feel at peace, like I’m truly at home. It helps me make better choices in my life.
Last week, I was in a car accident. I was really upset when it happened, but coming home made me feel good. Because I have my apartment, I’ve got something to lean on. I can catch the bus from my apartment while I’m working on getting my car back. Having the apartment makes me believe that everything is going to be okay.
Sometimes in my classes, other people ask me about CASA and how they can get an apartment like mine. CASA doesn’t have enough apartments for all of the people who need a place to live.
To me, the best part about my apartment is that I don’t have to worry about my safety. When you don’t feel safe, you’re always looking over your shoulder. Thanks to my apartment, I don’t have to do that anymore. Now I look ahead.
The little space I have gives me the opportunity to think about my future. CASA gave me a new beginning. Now it’s up to me to keep on and move forward.
Please support the budget increase for affordable housing and allow more people like me the opportunity to live in a safe, permanent home. Thank you.