Martha was raised in East Palo Alto and has been working there for six years as the Community and Family Engagement manager at a local school. She found herself in search of housing when her family left the Bay area and she was on her own. Martha applied to many housing programs but did not hear anything back and her fear of being homeless grew each day. She was approved for HIF’s Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) last May in Sunnyvale, where she lives in a unit 12 minutes from her work.
“Most of my life I have lived with my family members, which made sustaining myself a little easier. Never did I fear being homeless or not being able to sustain myself. About three years ago my mother went to Nicaragua and was not able to come back to the United States because her immigration documents were not approved. My brothers and I had no choice but to sell our home in order to support my mother’s stay in Nicaragua. After that year of hard decisions, my brothers decided to move out of the area. I was left to figure out my living situation alone. One of our neighbors offered to rent out his studio to me at a below market price, so I was able to live there and pay rent comfortably. But after two years they notified me that they would be needing the studio back. My heart dropped because I was not able to afford bay area prices on my own. I applied to many housing programs but I did not hear anything back and the fear of being homeless grew each day. I had thought of selling all my things and seeing if I could stay with friends until the end of the school year. Then I would have to make the hard choice of moving back to Nicaragua because I felt like I had no other choice. But then after months of searching and fear, I heard back from the Housing Industry Foundation. Since being part of the program I was able to stay another year in the area, I am still working in my community with children and families that I deeply care about. I am able to save a little money and the thought of going back to school and finishing my education seems like a more reachable goal. I am so grateful to this foundation because it made living in the bay area not seem impossible. I am thankful for the support I have received, I once again feel safe and like I could breathe again.”