Anita’s Story


Anita and her children; photo by Daniel Gaines Photography


Anita has already overcome more than most. As a toddler, she was declared a ward of the state and was placed with foster parents, who also took in her brother and two cousins.  Though her foster parents did the best they could with the four children, Anita had to learn to be self-sufficient at an early age. When she got pregnant at 18, she vowed to work even harder to ensure a stable future for her and her baby. And, she kept her promise: the teen mom often held down two jobs in addition to attending school, and worked overtime each year over the holidays so that her son, Gabriel, would always have gifts under the tree.

When Anita’s foster father passed away and her foster mother became ill just a short time later, Anita decided to put school on hold and move back home to help care for the woman who had done so much for her. In late 2013, things changed quickly for Anita: her mom finally succumbed to her longtime illness, the owner of the home served Anita’s notice, and then Anita’s contract position with the City of San Jose ended. Within just days, Anita lost a parent, a job, and her family’s home, and Anita – who had always prioritized self-sufficiency – needed help.

“Two years ago I found myself in one of the hardest situations to face as a mom”

-Anita, 2016

Anita entered a shelter with her two children and used the time to find another full-time job, start a savings account, and research apartments. Just days before her time was up in the shelter, Anita was approved for an apartment in San Jose, but with her savings still limited and no family to lean on, the move-in costs were insurmountable. Shelter staff helped Anita apply for an HIF grant, and with $1,000, the family moved into their new place.

HIF checked in with Anita two years later.  These days, Anita remains humbled by her family’s time in the shelter, but thankful for another chance at stability.  She has been working at her current job for over a year, and was promoted to a full-time service coordinator.  She still works toward building her savings to ensure that she and her children are never in that position again.