Y’vonne has a good job and despite having five children to look after, has been able to provide for her family. It was hard for her to ask for help when her situation turned dire, but she’s now glad she did.
“I was raised in the city of San Fernando by a single father—an alcoholic and a drug addict. I feel like he did the best he could with what he had. There has been a lot of chaos in my life really, but I thank God every day because I think he’s been by my side through it all. Things could have gone a lot worse for me. I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink alcohol. I barely even drink coffee,” Y’vonne said with a laugh. “I guess growing up watching all of that, I was really afraid because I know addiction runs in my family. It’s kind of why (my siblings and I) didn’t turn out like that. We are dropouts though.”
Y’vonne left high school in the 11th grade after getting pregnant with her now 23-year-old. “So I went straight to work,” Y’vonne said. She worked retail for years and was then encouraged by her sister to apply for a job at a dentist.
Y’vonne considers this a turning point in her life. “I got interviewed by my boss, who I love very much to this day,” she said. “She gave me a chance. I feel like someone like me shouldn’t have a job like this, especially with no education. I do have a really good job. I got really lucky.”
Y’vonne does consultations for specialty dentistry and orthodontics. She now has five kids—the youngest is 6. She was happy at her job, but miserable in her relationship. “I was in a very verbally abusive relationship that I finally got out of,” she said. “We couldn’t be in the apartment anymore because it was his name on the lease. I thought we would be OK. But then I trusted the wrong person.”
Y’vonne and her kids moved in with a friend, a situation that turned bad very quickly. “He took advantage of my situation and basically took all of my money,” she said. “Every month it was more, and I ended up becoming really afraid of him. Out of fear I started giving him everything he was asking for. And then we ended up getting kicked out anyway because it turns out he didn’t have a permit for the converted garage we were living in. He wouldn’t even allow me to get my stuff. He kept everything. All I had was three pieces of clothing.
“It was really hard. I feel stupid for putting myself in a bad situation. I regret it, but there’s nothing I can do except just learn and move on from it.”
Y’vonne was suddenly homeless. “I was on the streets,” she said. “I was sleeping in the car with my 15-year-old and my 23-year-old and my sister took in my three little ones. It was like that for four months. Then we called 2-1-1 and got in here.”
Y’vonne and her five kids arrived in January. “It has been a blessing for me being able to stay here. I love the people, and I love what they’ve done here. Everybody has been great that I’ve encountered. Things are still really hard though. I’ve been looking everywhere for a place. When they see my credit is bad, it’s a ‘no.’ Or when they hear how many kids I have, it’s a ‘no.’”
Because of Y’vonne’s good job and paycheck, she’s found it hard to get assistance from government agencies, despite the number of dependents she has. “Sometimes it feels like you have to be sleeping in the park for them to help you,” she said. “It’s like they’re saying, ‘You don’t seem homeless enough.’ I have a good job. I have money saved up. I just need someone to give me a chance to be able to put a roof over my kids’ heads.”
In May, Y’vonne got that chance. She found an apartment for her family, and they moved in on June 8. “Y’vonne worked really hard to find housing for herself and her children,” said Jane Flores, Y’vonne’s caseworker. “Because of her family size and credit issues, it was a challenge. But she stayed focused and positive and, on top of working full-time and raising her five children, found a place for her family. When she called to tell me, through her tears, I could hear pure happiness. This family has worked hard to accomplish their goals and make this their reality.”