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HUMANS OF HUD
The trials and triumphs of the men and women HUD serves.
 
 
 

 
 
 
[Humans of HUD]

Chervonte

Marietta, GA

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Brenda

Marietta, GA

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Theo

Oklahoma City, OK

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Raquel

Oklahoma City, OK

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Rigel

Columbia, MO

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Laura

Los Angeles, CA

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Khristen

North Carolina

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Ra'Kenya

Greenville, SC

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Chiquita

Savannah, GA

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Sam

Loveland, CO

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Danica

Long Beach, CA

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Monique

Long Beach, CA

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Luz

Puerto Rico

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Shimelis

Cambridge, MA

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Ayana

Edinburg, TX

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Sandra

New Albany, IN

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Steve

Butte, MT

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Denise

Bristol, VA

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Ketty

Bowling Green, KY

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Salvador

Santa Ana, CA

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Michael

Chicago, IL

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Marrea

Chester, PA

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Heidi

Ogden, UT

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William

Weymouth, MA

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Laura and Jaime

Brownsville, TX

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Tonia

Salt Lake City, UT

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Lisa

Chicago, IL

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Shirley

Jackson, MS

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KiAndra

Louisville, KY

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James

Chicago, IL

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Stephanie

Bakersfield, CA

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Brianna

Bakersfield, CA

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Taneshia

Newnan, GA

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Araceli

Fort Collins, CO

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Oneika

Norfolk, VA

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Antonio

East Point, GA

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Burney

Miami, FL

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Muhammad

Atlanta, GA

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Luis

San Diego, CA

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Traci

Long Beach, CA

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Angel

Chicago, IL

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Brandis

Columbia, SC

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Jaydee

Louisville, KY

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Mercedes

Santa Ana, CA

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Alison

Billings, MT

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Dianne

Long Beach, CA

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James

San Diego, CA

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Kourtney

Louisville, KY

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Mark

Louisville, KY

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Shernita

Washington, DC

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Tiffany

Chicago, IL

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Chevelle

Cincinnati, OH

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Kevin

Columbia, MO

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Rosanna

Midwest City, OK

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David

Charleston, SC

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Kelly and Souny

Long Beach, CA

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Tanya

Anne Arundel, MD

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Eric

Long Beach, CA

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< [Chervonte from Marietta, GA]>

Chervonte
Marietta, GA

"My personal journey with the housing authority began when I was a high school senior. I was 17, pregnant, and just hoping not to become a statistic. The Family Self-Sufficiency Program [FSS] opened doors to knowledge on credit, banking, finances, small business creation, higher education, parenting, and job skills through workshops offered to us. The goal setting aspect of the FSS Program was key for me. You sit down and ask yourself, 'What do I need for my life 5 years from now and what do I want for my children?' Then you have the accountability and access to resources provided by the FSS program to help you make those goals happen. I'm a proud FSS graduate and a proud homeowner! I can now ask myself, 'What do I want my next 5 years to look like?'"

Chervonte grew up in public housing in inner-city Detroit. As an adult, she moved into public housing in Marietta, Georgia and applied for a Section 8 voucher. Once she received a voucher, she moved into a beautiful apartment and enrolled in the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program through the Marietta Housing Authority. Chervonte is now a 6th grade teacher and a homeowner. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Chervonte achieve their dream of homeownership.

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< [Brenda from Marietta, GA]>

Brenda
Marietta, GA

"I was working two jobs and trying to keep my head above water when I got the news that I received a Section 8 Voucher and it's been a blessing ever since. In the FSS [Family Self Sufficiency] Program, the workshops help a lot because the people care and want to help you succeed. They had a counselor who came in and helped me after losing my mother and son. It's awesome to see how involved HUD is in our growth and our goals. In the next five years, I'm going back to college to study sociology and communications to encourage and empower others. I'm also writing a book and I want to buy a house. It's never too late to go back to school or to ask for help. Without the FSS Program, I wouldn't know half of the things I know now."

The Marietta Housing Authority's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program provides job training, education programs, and money management to enrollees. HUD-assisted individuals enrolled in the program outline goals they will accomplish through the program. Brenda hopes to use her degrees to help others who feel as hopeless as she once was and to write a book. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Brenda to further their education.

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< [Theo from Oklahoma City, OK]>

Theo
Oklahoma City, OK

"I joined the Army in 1980 and served nine years with combat service support. I experienced some traumatic life events that caused me to separate from my support systems. I became homeless and lived on the streets of Oklahoma City for fourteen years. I got involved with the Homeless Alliance who helped me get a Section 8 voucher and moved into my new apartment in October. It's been one of the best experiences I've had. Being a voucher recipient has given me a better appreciation for the services available and allowed me to move forward with my life after being homeless for so long."

The Homeless Alliance is a nonprofit organization which works with public and private partners to end local homelessness. They have a Day Shelter which provides healthcare services, budgeting assistance, legal support, and classes to help people like Theo move toward self-sufficiency. Theo is especially thankful for his case manager who helped him achieve a Section 8 voucher. HUD gave the Homeless Alliance $2,626,784 in 2018 to help people like Theo climb the ladder of opportunity.

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< [Raquel from Oklahoma City, OK]>

Raquel
Oklahoma City, OK

"HUD and the Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma [MFHC] helped to improve my life and the lives of my children. Being a single mother, the worst fear is not feeling safe in your home and not being able to protect your family. MFHC took a stand with me to stop sexual harassment from landlords and I will continue to stand and fight for woman's rights."

HUD's Fair Housing Initiative Program (FHIP) participant Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma, Inc. (MFHC) assisted Raquel in her fight to stop the sexual harassment she was experiencing from her landlord. HUD provided $37 million in FHIP grants in 2018 to support the Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma and other FHIP agencies in serving their communities through fair housing education, awareness, and enforcement.

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< [Rigel from Columbia, MO]>

Rigel
Columbia, MO

"As a lawyer, I have litigated sexual harassment cases under the Fair Housing Act. I was privileged to see many brave women come forward, make their voices heard, and get justice. As an academic, I am continuing to gather the stories of women who have been sexually harassed by their landlords, so I know there is still much work to be done."

Professor Rigel Oliveri is a nationally recognized expert on fair housing law and has assisted HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) by encouraging others to file housing discrimination complaints. FHEO and its Fair Housing Assistance Program partner agencies receive more than 8,000 complaints alleging discriminatory harassment or other forms of housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and family status. Learn more about your fair housing rights at HUD.gov/FairHousing.

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< [Laura from Los Angeles, CA]>

Laura
Los Angeles, CA

"There are many unsung heroes in the world of fair housing, but the countless positive outcomes that come from our work cannot be achieved without the complainants' willingness to come forward and take that courageous first step. It seems these days, many outside forces conspire to destroy trust in our institutions, but I know that confidence is restored in our communities - one case at a time, one person at a time - when our work touches the lives of those we serve. I am humbled by the role I have as a fair housing investigator."

Laura is a fair housing investigator in HUD's Los Angeles Field Office. She recently worked to settle a sexual harassment in housing case. HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and its Fair Housing Assistance Program partner agencies receive over 8,000 complaints alleging discriminatory harassment or other forms of housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and family status. Visit HUD.gov/FairHousing to learn more about your fair housing rights.

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< [Khristen from North Carolina]>

Khristen
North Carolina

"I was a young mother, alone, and in need of assistance. I was given approval to live in a home that was supposed to be a sanctuary for me and my children. We were grateful that we finally qualified for housing. Unfortunately, the home inspector made it crystal clear that unless I complied with his sexual advances, he would use his power not to sign off on my voucher for housing. I chose not to remain silent about this injustice and to uplift my voice. I knew I wasn't alone. So many others had been abused and violated like me. Remaining silent would have given strength to the abusers, but speaking out gave us power over them. It was my duty to speak out for others who have and may be abused. Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, we have the freedom not to allow predators to hold power over us."

HUD's Fair Housing Initiative Program (FHIP) participant Fair Housing Project - Legal Aid of North Carolina assisted Khristen to stop the sexual harassment she was experiencing from a housing inspector. HUD has provided $37 million in FHIP grants to support the Fair Housing Project - Legal Aid of North Carolina and other FHIP agencies in serving their communities through fair housing education, awareness, and enforcement.

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< [Ra'Kenya from Greenville, SC]>

Ra'Kenya
Greenville, SC

"If I were to write a book about my life, I would name it "potholes." Potholes are those unexpected things in life that you don't see coming, and that you can't control, until you hit them. Sometimes we can get too comfortable in those potholes, but we have to keep walking. Don't stop living. Don't give up on a better quality of life just because you've hit some potholes and don't be afraid to ask for help."

After quitting her job due to an illness, Ra'Kenya began having financial difficulties and had to foreclose on her home and move in with her grandmother. She applied for and was approved for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher with the Greenville Housing Authority, found a place of her own, and was able to get back on her feet. Ra'Kenya is now serving as the Resident Commissioner with the housing authority - helping others who shared similar experiences. She also recently enrolled at Greenville Technical College and will pursue a degree in Human Services.

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< [Chiquita from Savannah, GA]>

Chiquita
Savannah, GA

"I've come a long way and accomplished a lot but I'm hoping to further my education and eventually get my doctoral degree. Looking back on my journey as a teen mom - I say to other young women, don't give up. Keep faith, anything is possible. Look beyond the big picture because there is always a bigger picture!"

After falling on hard times, Chiquita applied for a Housing Choice Voucher and enrolled in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program through the Housing Authority of Savannah. The skills she learned from the FSS program equipped her to earn a degree from Savannah Technical College. In 2016, she became a homeowner and earned her Bachelor's in Education from Ashford University. HUD invested $75 million in the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program in 2017 to help people like Chiquita reach their goals.

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< [Sam from Loveland, CO]>

Sam
Loveland, CO

"We live in a country full of abundance. We have so many resources available, and it's about where we choose to direct those resources. The work I have been privileged to do has helped improve lives. I am proud of the success of the Loveland Housing Authority and the innovative culture my staff and I have been able to foster that motivates us to provide housing for the people we serve."

After 42 years of public service at the Loveland Housing Authority, Sam retired from his position as Executive Director in November 2018. He began as a Program Manager in 1976 and was appointed Executive Director in 1981. The housing authority administers HUD's Section 8 program as well as Tax Credit Properties and affordable housing programs and services. Sam considers Willow Place, a 200-unit development which provides affordable housing for low income families and veterans to be one of the Housing Authority's greatest accomplishments. Funding for the project was secured through HUD's Home Investment Partnership and Community Development Block Grant funding. Dedicated partners like Sam make it possible for HUD to provide housing assistance to millions of low-income Americans across the country.

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< [Danica from Long Beach, CA]>

Danica
Long Beach, CA

"Growing up in Windsor Hills, (a Los Angeles suburban neighborhood), never did I imagine I would be assisting low-income families and senior citizens find housing. I'm a single mother of two and I realize how important affordable housing is, not only to the community, but to the well-being and health of the families that live here."

Century Villages at Cabrillo (CVC) provides 662 units of permanent supportive housing. Every year, CVC provides housing for 2,199 people, including 1,042 veterans and 600 families with children. The 27-acre campus has benefited from $66 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and nearly $18 million in HUD Capital Investment.

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< [Monique from Long Beach, CA]>

Monique
Long Beach, CA

"Being here has helped me to co-exist with others because of the variety of people. At first I was skeptical about it, but it helped me grow as a person - go to groups, branch out, be able to help people, learn how people are different."

A resident, volunteer and leader at Century Villages at Cabrillo (CVC), Monique leads the Self-Enhancement support group. The group is open to residents who want to look and feel their best. Participants can do their nails and pick up affordable ways to pamper themselves while learning about the importance of self-care. CVC provides 662 units of permanent supportive housing across the community. Every year, CVC provides housing for 2,199 people including 1,042 Veterans and 600 families with children. The 27-acre campus has benefited from $66 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and nearly $18 million in HUD Capital Investment.

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< [Luz from Puerto Rico]>

Luz
Puerto Rico

"During the hurricane, we moved from room to room as the storm tore off the roof; finally, after the bathroom was gone, we took refuge in the car. Everything was lost."

Luz and her husband Santos lost the home that they had built together in Cupey, San Juan, Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria in September 2017. After their home was destroyed, Luz and Santos sought help from a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. They met with a HUD representative there who told them about St. Mary's Home for the Elderly where they moved after the storm. St. Mary's is one of 72 privately owned multifamily properties that serve low-income seniors in Puerto Rico. HUD has allocated $20 billion in Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Recovery funding to help Puerto Rico recover after the 2017 hurricanes.

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< [Shimelis from Cambridge, MA]>

Shimelis
Cambridge, MA

"My wife and I were both born in Ethiopia. We had the chance to come to the United States through a special visa program. It was a hard decision to leave but we knew that in America there is freedom and opportunity. When we came here, we both were able to find work but it was still hard to make ends meet. Cambridge Housing Authority helped us afford a place to live and also offered us the chance to participate in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. I got to work with a financial coach at a local nonprofit, Compass Working Capital, to learn more about how to become more financially secure and work toward my financial goals. The program has helped us to build savings that we hope to use one day to buy a house. I am now saving so that my children can one day attend college. The FSS program has been very good for our family. Before this, I didn't have any idea how to save or how to buy a house. Now, with this program, I feel supported to reach my goals."

Cambridge Housing Authority's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program partners with Compass Working Capital, a local non-profit which provides incentive-based savings and financial coaching. This partnership provides HUD-assisted individuals with the resources to build assets, achieve their financial goals, and become financially secure. Shimelis was paired with a financial mentor through the program who helped him develop a savings plan while teaching him crucial money management skills. Cambridge Housing Authority receives about $87 million from HUD per year for their FSS programs.

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< [Ayana from Edinburg, TX]>

Ayana
Edinburg, TX

"Pick a word and let that word drive you. My three words would be believe, tenacious, and reliable. My journey started with the word believe-I had to work on believing in myself. When I was raising a son while studying to become a physician's assistant, my word was tenacious-I learned what it means to be unstoppable and to live boldly. Now, my word is reliable. I am focused on being grateful for the people who supported me, giving back to my community who helped me up when I needed it, and reaching out to those who tried to discourage me to let them know that they too can accomplish their dreams."

The Edinburg Housing Authority's (EHA) Section 8 housing voucher program helps people like Ayana pay their rent. The program serves low-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities by subsidizing the cost of the private housing market. Ayana and her son moved into Section 8 housing when she started PA school. Once she graduated, she became self-sufficient and was able to move beyond Section 8 assistance. HUD invested $75 million in the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program in 2017 which partners with voucher recipients like Ayana to help them become self-sufficient.

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< [Sandra from New Albany, IN]>

Sandra
New Albany, IN

"In 2008 my life was turned upside down. I was suddenly in a position where I had to step up to the plate and provide for my two small grandchildren. I had to learn all about school supplies, homework, and after school programs. Not long after I moved into the New Albany Housing Authority neighborhood, I found myself walking down the sidewalk of the Family Self-Sufficiency building--I honestly felt my head whirling with doubt and fear. I walked in, sat down at a computer, and found that I was in the right place. I joined the FSS program and was able to take excellent care of my family. After a few years, my daughter was able to come home and be with her kids. I knew it was now time for me to start the life I had put on hold. Once again, I found myself in a paid volunteering role at the FSS office. Well, I did such a great job that when the New Albany Housing Authority had an opening, I applied and was hired! I now work full-time in the maintenance office as a clerk. I LOVE my job and my coworkers!"

The New Albany Housing Authority (NAHA) participates in HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program which provides HUD-assisted individuals with the resources needed to gain employment that will lead to economic independence. Sandra began volunteering at the front desk in the New Albany FSS office and was able to attend workshops that gave her valuable job training skills. She was eventually hired to work at the NAHA office full time and has been in that role since March of 2017. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Sandra find a job that they love.

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< [Steve from Butte, MT]>

Steve
Butte, MT

"For over two decades, I've been helping the homeless in the rough-and-tumble historic mining town of Butte, Montana. While the community's economic base and population has declined substantially over the past several decades, there has been an increase in poverty and homelessness. As an employee of Action, one of my main roles is to help the community's neediest residents find decent, safe affordable housing, which can often be a tremendous challenge. I believe that one of the keys to successfully getting people into permanent housing is by building strong partnerships with other organizations. I've seen how once people have stable housing, they're able to be successful in other parts of their lives. This is definitely one of the most rewarding parts of my work!"

Steve works for Action Inc, a HUD-funded organization which helps people who are homeless or struggling to pay their rent in Southwest Montana. In his role, Steve runs a transitional homeless shelter which was recently awarded additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from HUD.

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< [Denise from Bristol, VA]>

Denise
Bristol, VA

"My daughter and I lived with my parents for a while but we all needed more space and it was time to move on. I had to make a home for my daughter and show her how to be independent. Thanks to HUD, I'm more confident in myself now and know that I have a bright future. My daughter is 21 and about to enter the military. She is ready to fly!"

Denise enrolled in the Family Self Sufficiency program through the Bristol Redevelopment and Housing Authority. For the last 12 years, the Family Self-Sufficiency Program at the Bristol Redevelopment and Housing Authority has been helping residents establish goals to make a better life for themselves and their children. The program is open to HUD-assisted families and provides skills training, financial education, and other services-including help with securing a job. Denise currently serves on the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority and is working towards purchasing her own home.

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< [Ketty from Bowling Green, KY]>

Ketty
Bowling Green, KY

"I was born and raised in Congo, Africa. As a young woman, I was married, a homeowner, and the mother of nine beautiful children. When I made the journey to the United States, I became a single mother with nowhere to go. In the beginning, I was paying over $700 a month on rent and attempting to single-handedly provide for my children. That burden became too heavy when the doctors discovered a blood clot in my lungs which stopped me from being able to work. I prayed to God for his protection as I was out of a job and heading towards homelessness. I reached out to my local housing authority. There, I found more than I had prayed for. I received shelter for my family, guidance, and was introduced to programs that provided me with a plan to regain my self-sufficiency. We moved into a housing authority residence and I had set a goal for myself: to once again become a homeowner. I am part of the Reach Higher Program and on the road to independence. Someday, I want to open up my own business to provide others like me with the aid and support that saved my life."

Ketty is currently going through the Live the Dream program with the Housing Authority of Bowling Green in the hopes of achieving homeownership. The program educates potential first-time homebuyers on the process of purchasing a home. Due to the success of its self-sufficiency programs, the Housing Authority of Bowling Green recently received a national designation as a HUD EnVision Center. Some of the housing authority's on site resources include a tutoring center, greenhouse, woodworking shop, clothing bank, and even a Girl Scout Troop.

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< [Salvador from Santa Ana, CA]>

Salvador
Santa Ana, CA

"Since I began receiving housing assistance, I have accomplished many goals. I have become a U.S. citizen and I have gained more skills at my job. I am looking to the future and hope that one day I can become a homeowner. I had never imagined the possibility of owning my own home."

Salvador immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 15. He later married and struggled to find an affordable place for his family to live. They applied for a Housing Choice Voucher and were put on a waiting list. Once he received a voucher, Salvador joined the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program through the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Ana, which connects HUD-assisted individuals with the resources, training, and opportunities needed to achieve self-sufficiency. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Salvador climb the ladder of opportunity.

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< [Michael from Chicago, IL]>

Michael
Chicago, IL

"I'd been into drugs and in and out of jail for thirty years. I lived in different people's houses for short times then moved on. A Safe Haven helped me a lot. They opened their doors and helped me get my life back on track. The environment gives me better insight to help me better my life if that's what I want to do. ASH threw me a rope to climb out of a deep hole. I encourage other guys to stay off drugs and live life on life's terms. I work here part-time and I hope I can get full time work here soon. A Safe Haven saved my life; I know that's for sure."

A Safe Haven in Chicago serves as a shelter and support center for people struggling with drug abuse. The Chicago branch was recently named a HUD EnVision Center. Individuals are coached through recovery and supported on their journey to self-sufficiency. Over the last ten years, ASH has received over $10.3 million in funding through HUD's Continuum of Care program and $2 million through the Community Development Block Grant program. To learn more about ASH, please visit: www.ASafeHaven.org

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< [Marrea from Chester, PA]>

Marrea
Chester, PA

"I was a resident of William Penn Homes in the city of Chester for 18 years. When my family became homeless due to a fire, HUD offered us a home. This was a pivotal moment for my family. My mother no longer had to worry about her children being cold and not having hot water to shower. She instilled structure, rules and values in our home. She always considered public housing to be a temporary means for her children. As she gained more knowledge and exposure outside of the housing development, she began to understand the endless possibilities for her children. After graduating high school, she gave us six months to go to college or to get a job. Both options were intended to establish a plan of action for us to become self-sufficient and independent. When I graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree in political science, I began working and moved out of the housing development. Now, I'm passionate about helping people achieve their personal and professional goals. Recently, I was honored by Main Line Today magazine as a '2018 Healthcare Hero' for developing programs that help underserved members of our community access jobs in healthcare."

Marrea Walker-Smith is the President and CEO of Creative Education Opportunities, a virtual and on-site training company. She partnered with the Chester Housing Authority in Chester, Pennsylvania, to launch a resident training academy for public housing residents. In Fiscal Year 2018, HUD awarded $8.3 million to Chester Housing Authority to support families living in this development.

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< [Heidi from Ogden, UT]>

Heidi
Ogden, UT

"This is the only way I could have ever purchased a home. Without the Down Payment Assistance program, I would still be renting. In June, I moved into my three-bedroom, two-bath home with my daughter and son - one son lives on his own. I plan to take courses on home repair and I'm looking forward to really 'making it mine' with family photos, a nice patio, and a grill for barbecues with friends and family. For anyone who wants to own a home - keep trying and never give up, but also be prepared, because homeownership is a big responsibility!"

A single mom of three, Heidi rented a house in Ogden, Utah for 15 years. She knew she wanted to be a homeowner but struggled for many years to save money and repair her credit and did not have any family members that could help her. Heidi's dream of being a homeowner was turned into reality when she worked with housing counselors and found out she qualified for the Ogden Down Payment Assistance Program.

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< [William from Weymouth, MA]>

William
Weymouth, MA

"I moved into a friend's van in his driveway and I thought that was my bottom. I'll never forget it, sitting there in the sleeping bag in a white van, hearing the traffic go by at night, in tears some nights. I was waiting for a call the next day from either Father Bill's & MainSpring or the Department of Veterans Affairs to say, 'we have something for you.' I made some good inroads getting my own apartment, I worked hard, I did what the staff told me to do and stayed out of trouble. I was still a dad at the same time, saw my kids when I could. The best part was that I did it all on my own. Nobody handed it to me. When I got that phone call, 'Your voucher is in for VASH,' I think I went to my room and cried. I didn't imagine this ever happening, and here I am today sitting in a beautiful apartment. It's exciting-- I love my life today."

William, a Vietnam War veteran, became homeless in 2016 after several setbacks, including an addiction to the opioid he was prescribed for an injury. For several weeks, the United States Air Force veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, had to sleep in a friend's van. Father Bill's & MainSpring, a leading non-profit organization in Southern Massachusetts, came to William's aid, moving him into one of the agency's supportive housing units for veterans. He started working with a case manager who connected him with a HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher. In 2017, William used his voucher to move into his own new apartment, where his children and grandchildren can now visit him.

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< [Laura and Jaime from Brownsville, TX]>

Laura and Jaime
Brownsville, TX

"My top priority was finding a handicap-friendly place for my son, Jaime, to live. The Buena Vida Public Housing Development has been that and so much more. I was able to sign up for a citizenship class through Buena Vida, which led to me becoming a U.S. citizen in April. All I wanted was an accessible home for my son-I never imagined that it would change my life too."

The Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville was awarded a Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant for the Buena Vida facility in 2016. HUD's Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant program equips local leaders to create comprehensive plans to transform their local communities. This planning process led to the creation of several new programs including a partnership with the non-profit Proyecto Juan Diego, which allowed Laura to achieve U.S. citizenship.

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< [Tonia from Salt Lake City, UT]>

Tonia
Salt Lake City, UT

"I finally have a home in a nice area that is quiet and calm. The housing choice voucher program made it a little bit easier for me to raise three kids as a single mom."

When Tonia moved to Salt Lake City, Utah from Dallas, Texas, she was faced with unstable employment and housing, moving frequently for many years. After waiting nearly three years, she finally moved off the waiting list for a Housing Choice Voucher. She has a steady job working at a family shelter in Midville, Utah and enjoys spending time at home with her kids and her five grandkids.

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< [Lisa from Chicago, IL]>

Lisa
Chicago, IL

"After being on a (housing) voucher since 1999, I made a conscious decision to re-evaluate my assets-then I realized I did not have any to evaluate. My fear of letting the program go had hindered me from obtaining any. But, my self-analysis allowed me to eliminate my fears and set a goal. I wanted to show my five children that, although you may have obstacles, trials and setbacks, you do not have to allow your current situation to define your future. Two years later, everything is different. On February 20, I closed on my own home. I graduated from the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program in June. And in December I will have my Master's in Addiction Studies. I truly appreciate all the help, but I am so happy to be free."

The Housing Authority of Cook County participates in HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, which aims to help people become financially independent. As part of FSS, participants establish goals, obtain employment, and move towards housing independence. When they complete these objectives, they have access to an escrow account which they can use to achieve their goals. The House Authority of Cook County's FSS program received $277,476 from HUD in 2018 to help people like Lisa become a homeowner.

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< [Shirley from Jackson, MS]>

Shirley
Jackson, MS

"I grew up right here in Jackson, Mississippi. We bought the house in 1992 and it was already old. When I heard about the HOME program through the Mississippi Housing Partnership, I decided to give it a try. The company that did the renovation was such a blessing. They packed the whole house, put everything in a truck, took it to storage, and when they finished the remodel, put everything right back where it belonged. My home is now so beautiful, it makes me feel like a Queen. If someone is going to have their home go through a total rehab with a program like this, I would say be honest, be kind, and be patient. All good things take time."

The Mississippi Housing Partnership (MHP), in collaboration with the City of Jackson, administers the Jackson Gateway Project, which is funded via HUD's HOME Investment Partnership Grant. The Jackson Gateway Project is a comprehensive rehabilitation program for owner-occupied properties located in a specific area of West Jackson along the Capitol Street corridor. The property must be the primary place of residence for which the homeowner must provide proof of ownership and meet income requirements per HUD guidelines. In 2016, MHP successfully rehabbed eight owner-occupied properties, which added value to the homes and to the communities in general. Cost of renovation for Shirley's home was over $126,000, which includes relocation, storage, moving costs, and utility reconnection fees. The Jackson Gateway Project helped bring Shirley's dream home to life.

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< [KiAndra from Louisville, KY]>

KiAndra
Louisville, KY

"My struggle with homelessness began when my mother and I got into an altercation over money. The cops were called, and my mother immediately put me out on the streets. I began my search for shelter at the Salvation Army. I then moved to the Louisville Safe Place. After that, I unfortunately found myself homeless. Once I became pregnant with my daughter, I sought out a semi-permanent housing voucher through HUD. The department pays for half of my rent, allowing me to focus on my daughter and my studies. I hope to complete my bachelor's degree soon and find work with The Coalition, so I can give back to the institutions that saved me. If you are struggling with homelessness, never give up. You have to want independence for yourself and you have to be patient on your journey to self-sufficiency."

KiAndra has been helped by Louisville's Coalition for the Homeless. The Coalition serves over 1,100 homeless individuals each year. HUD awarded $2.03 billion to its Continuum of Care programs across the country in 2017 to help people like KiAndra get a fresh start.

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< [James from Chicago, IL]>

James
Chicago, IL

"I was once a student athlete with a lot of hope for my future. Unfortunately, drugs took a hold of my life after an injury ended my collegiate career. It was easy to quickly become addicted to a number of substances and I soon spiraled into a life of crime to sustain my newfound lifestyle. I experienced the trials of homelessness and later the realities of prison. I found A Safe Haven through a court order that changed my life. I went into the program with a drive and determination to finally get my life back on track. I participated in every program I could and worked to be free of my drug addiction. A Safe Haven allowed me to once again envision a life for myself and be hopeful about the future. Currently, I work part-time at A Safe Haven and hope to eventually become a case aid at the institution, so I can help others like me regain their independence. It all started for me at A Safe Haven, and I want to give that fresh start to others."

A Safe Haven in Chicago serves as a shelter and support center for people struggling with drug abuse - the Chicago branch was recently named a HUD EnVision Center. Individuals are coached through recovery and supported on their journey to self-sufficiency. Over the last ten years, ASH has received over $10.3 million in funding through HUD's Continuum of Care program and $2 million through the Community Development Block Grant program. To learn more about ASH, please visit: www.ASafeHaven.org

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< [Stephanie from Bakersfield, CA]>

Stephanie
Bakersfield, CA

"For a long time, I lived on foods stamps and government programs. I was comfortable with my life until I hit a low point -- I started struggling to pay my bills and keep a roof over my head. I heard about HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program and decided to give it a try. They helped me set goals to get a job, fix my credit score, and become self-sufficient. Well, I got a job and learned how to save up my money and graduated from the program last spring. Now, I'm giving back by using my ministerial license to help other women realize that it isn't too late for them either."

The Housing Authority of the County of Kern administers HUD's Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program which connects HUD-assisted families with the resources, skills and opportunities needed to achieve self-sufficiency. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Stephanie realize their potential.

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< [Brianna from Bakersfield, CA]>

Brianna
Bakersfield, CA

"Growing up I didn't really have a 'normal' home. I got pregnant when I was 16 and dropped out of high school. When I turned 18, I applied for public housing. I enrolled in the FSS Program and set goals for the first time. I completed my G.E.D. and enrolled in college where I am currently getting my degree in Business Administration while working part time. My next goal was to move out of government housing. I applied for a home loan and was approved. The first thing I did was call my FSS coordinator because I was overwhelmed. She reminded me that I had been saving money so that I could buy my own house. In August, I became a homeowner. I'm thankful I didn't let my circumstances keep me from my goal of homeownership."

The Housing Authority of the County of Kern administers HUD's Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program which connects HUD-assisted families with the resources, skills and opportunities needed to achieve self-sufficiency. HUD invested $75 million in the program in 2017 to help people like Brianna become a homeowner.

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< [Taneshia from Newnan, GA]>

Taneshia
Newnan, GA

"After 10 years of being in an abusive marriage, I finally got up enough courage to take my two daughters and leave. I applied for an apartment at the Housing Authority of Newnan and was able to get a place for me and my children within a few weeks. I still felt so lost and afraid. How could I ever provide for my children? I didn't have an education, and I was living from paycheck to paycheck. I enrolled in the Family Self Sufficiency Program and set five goals: to earn my GED, get a better job, get off of welfare, earn a degree and buy a home. On March 28, 2018, I closed on our home. I am no longer on welfare, and I have a great job as a quality manager. My husband has started his own business that is doing amazing. This program and HUD have changed our lives in such an incredible way. I'm grateful to the staff at the Housing Authority of Newnan and HUD for helping me and my family."

The Housing Authority of Newnan administers HUD's Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program which connects HUD-assisted families with the resources, skills and opportunities needed to achieve self-sufficiency. HUD invested $75 million in the program in 2017 to help people like Taneshia make their dreams come true.

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< [Araceli from Fort Collins, CO]>

Araceli
Fort Collins, CO

"I've always wanted to own my own home. As a mother, it's important to me to be able to provide safety and stability for my children and invest in their future. Homeownership is the best option. I'm extremely grateful for the incredible support that I have received from so many caring and talented professionals. The support that I have received has been instrumental to the success that I now enjoy. Thank you to HUD and Housing Catalyst for their programs that changed my life. To others out there seeking a better life, work with your housing coordinators and take advantage of the great programs that are available. Do the work and pursue educational and employment opportunities to build a better life. Say 'yes' when the world offers opportunities!"

Araceli found herself in a very difficult situation with nowhere to live but luckily, she was able to connect with a local safe house and spoke with a case manager about resources. Through her local housing authority, Housing Catalyst, Araceli was granted a project-based voucher and enrolled into their Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. She began to explore the possibility of homeownership and worked on improving her credit and budgeting skills. After a year, she was finally able to make her dream of homeownership a reality. Housing Catalyst's Family Self-Sufficiency Program, better known as the JumpStart program to its residents, helps families gain education and career skills to move toward self-sufficiency. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Araceli climb the ladder of economic opportunity.

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< [Oneika from Norfolk, VA]>

Oneika
Norfolk, VA

"Imagine if you woke up and someone sent you a text message that said your house is gone. The gas that's in your car, that's all you have. The money that's in your wallet, that's all you have. The clothes on your back, that's all you have. I'm very grateful and thankful for the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the HUD-VASH program. It saved my life and my children's lives."

Oneika proudly served our country in the military for 11 years. After returning stateside and leaving the U.S. Army, she initially settled in Columbia, South Carolina. She moved to Virginia a few years later to support a family member through some challenges. Struggling to find employment that paid a livable wage, Oneika was unable to pay rent and was evicted. The two families began a nomadic existence, staying at Motel 6 when they could afford to, and with family and friends when they could not. They would spend much of their time at the local library where they could find heat or air conditioning. Oneika researched resources that are available for female veterans, which led her to the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center and to HUD-Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). She soon received a housing voucher and job training through the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. Today, Oneika serves as a recruiter for L3 Technologies, and is helping other veterans find post-service employment. Her ultimate career goal? To help others find a home through HUD-Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced a 5.4 percent decline in Veteran homelessness from 2017. In October 2017, the agencies also announced a $35 million grant to support veterans like Oneika with housing assistance.

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< [Antonio from East Point, GA]>

Antonio
East Point, GA

"When I came back from Iraq, I felt disconnected from society. I was depressed so I turned to drugs, but I didn't let those challenges stop me. HUD-VASH was a game changer for me. Sure, I received housing assistance, but it was much more than that. I set goals for myself-- to obtain my Ph.D. and become a homeowner in five years. I'm grateful that I didn't let one flat tire stop me. The battle isn't over, but it gets easier when you have the right support, resources, and programs like this one."

The East Point Housing Authority participates in the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program to provide wraparound services to homeless veterans. HUD recently awarded $35 million to help veterans like Antonio get the help they need.

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< [Burney from Miami, FL]>

Burney
Miami, FL

"I came back from Germany after serving in the Army and got into drinking and smoking. I was a cabinet maker, but I couldn't hold a job for too long. Even my mom didn't want me sleeping in her house. I was known to the local correctional officers and even landed in prison for a few months. I also lost friends, got divorced, and slept in abandoned cars. I did this on and off for more than 10 years. One day, I heard about a place where I could sleep and asked a friend for a ride, but he took me to a detox place instead. Once I finally got to the point where I could look for a job and hold on to it, I started to feel better about myself. I went to college, got an Associates in Social Work and started working for Camillus House. Then I joined Chapman Partnership. I've been sober and employed for 26 years. I am a housing specialist and I find homes for people who are where I once was. I share my story and I tell them if I could do it, you can do it. You have to be honest with yourself because change is hard. You can talk all you want, but if you have reservations inside, most likely you won't change. So, it must come from within and you have to go at it every day. Even today, I am 62. I talk to myself when I feel I could revert to other behaviors and say, 'Hey Burney, what are you doing? You know you can't do that!' I look at my family photos, my degree, and remember that I like being honest with myself."

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, serves persons in need, like Burney. First, he was a client then a faithful employee at Chapman Partnership, a homeless service provider within the Homeless Trust. In 2017, HUD awarded more than $30 million in funding to Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust as part of the annual Continuum of Care (COC) Program competition. This year the Trust, in partnership with the Miami Veteran Affairs and a network of dedicated partners and providers, led an unprecedented effort to house homeless veterans and has effectively ended veteran homelessness in their community.

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< [Mark from Federal Way, WA]>

Mark
Federal Way, WA

"Alcohol or drugs didn't put me on the streets. My gambling problem and high child support did. It left me homeless off and on for five years. There are people who've been homeless for 15, 20 years and they seem to like it. For me, it was just my life, my routine - something I had to get through. I lived in my broken 1990 Ford F-10 for about three years until I met with my VA Case Manager. They told me I qualified for a HUD-VASH voucher and offered me a spot at the Wood Veterans House. I'm grateful to have had a chance to live there. It took time to get used to living with so many other people, but it's given me a chance to get back on my financial feet. I'm headed back to Bellingham - it's where I grew up and after all these years, it will be a nice place to call home."

The William J. Wood Veteran's House provides housing for homeless veterans and their families. The Woods Veterans House opened in December 2016 and is home to 44 fully furnished units that are eligible for rental subsides through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and King County Housing Authority. HUD and the VA recently announced a $35 million grant to help veterans like Mark find a place to call home.

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< [Muhammad from Atlanta, GA]>

Muhammad
Atlanta, GA

"When I went in to the Army, I had never drunk before. But when you got off work, that was the big thing. It was just something we did. I thought I had the drinking under control, but when I left the Army three years later, I didn't quit drinking. I had worked at MCI in various positions and couldn't find one I really enjoyed. Plus, my drinking was in the way. I lost my job, my roommate moved out, and then I became homeless. I knew that I was worthy and capable of doing better. I just could not see that my drinking was a major reason things were so bad. I blamed racism, sexism, the economy, islamophobia. Choice, change, change. For me, the choice was to ask for help to have a chance at changing my life. I didn't want to just change my life, I wanted to change the lives of others. I continued my education and recently became a certified peer specialist and therapist. I'm looking forward to helping others overcome alcoholism. I'm a veteran who had some issues in my life, but I overcame them with a change of heart, attitude and outlook on life. No one owes any of us anything. The things we are given in life to help us to move forward, we should be grateful for them - and pay it forward."

Atlanta Housing (AH) is the largest housing authority in Georgia and one of the largest in the nation. AH provides and facilitates affordable housing resources for low-income households. Muhammad Khateeb receives housing assistance through HUD's Housing Choice Voucher program. HUD invested over $20 billion in the Housing Choice Voucher program in 2017 to help people like Muhammad find an affordable place to call home.

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< [Luis from San Diego, CA]>

Luis
San Diego, CA

"I never used the 'H-word.' I always called myself an urban camper. Today, I'm happy that I'm here because I have a roof over my head, my own kitchen, and a place of my own."

For 18 years, Luis called the U.S. Navy his home. After leaving military service, he struggled to maintain employment and ultimately found himself without a home and living on the streets of San Diego. In 2016, Luis connected with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the San Diego Housing Commission to become one of the first residents of the newly rehabilitated Hotel Churchill. Today, this historic building, a fixture in San Diego since 1914, is home to 72 persons who previously experienced homelessness, including 56 veterans like Luis. HUD invested more than $12 million to help the San Diego Housing rehabilitate the structure and bring it back to its original glory. As a result, the award-winning Hotel Churchill continues to stand at the corner of Ninth Avenue and C Street as a testament to what federal, state and local entities can achieve when they work together to end homelessness.

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< [Traci from Long Beach, CA]>

Traci
Long Beach, CA

"I was a drug addict for many, many years. In and out of bad relationships. In and out of jail and prison and since I've been here [CVC], I'm no longer on parole or probation. I have a little dog now who is a service animal. I was able to get a car. It was little steps at a time."

Century Villages at Cabrillo (CVC) provides 662 units of permanent supportive housing in Long Beach, CA. Every year, CVC provides housing for 2,199 people including 1,042 Veterans and 600 families with children. The 27-acre campus has benefited from $66 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and nearly $18 million in HUD Capital Investment.

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< [Angel from Chicago, IL]>

Angel
Chicago, IL

"I decided to try A Safe Haven Foundation. It's the best thing that happened in my life. I knew that if I didn't give this institution a shot, I would be back on the streets, on drugs and in trouble with the law. If my mind says no to drugs, my heart will follow. The support, hope and refuge that ASH has given me has turned my life around and presented me with an opportunity to have a future completely different than the one I anticipated as a kid."

Introduced to drugs and crime as a young teen, Angel's issues with addiction and the criminal justice system were inevitable. A Safe Haven (ASH) was presented to him by the court system as an option. He has participated in Job Readiness and the Housing Keeping and Recovery Education programs. Angel now works part-time with ASH and aspires to continue working with the foundation that gave him his life back. A Safe Haven in Chicago serves as a shelter and support center for people struggling with drug abuse. The Chicago branch was recently named a HUD EnVision Center. Individuals are coached through recovery and supported on their journey to self-sufficiency. Over the last ten years, ASH has received over $10.3 million in funding through HUD's Continuum of Care program and $2 million through the Community Development Block Grant program. To learn more about ASH, please visit: www.ASafeHaven.org

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< [Brandis from Columbia, SC]>

Brandis
Columbia, SC

"Once I had children of my own, I found that I no longer had a place to live. It turned out that getting my own place was a good stepping stone. I was connected with my case manager Ms. Boykin through the Columbia Housing Authority who helped me find a job. Ms. Boykin has impacted my life in positive ways. She goes above and beyond to help me out and keep me informed on different trainings and programs offered through the housing authority that will help me better myself. I hope to be self-sufficient in five years. My dream is to be a homeowner and to have a car."

The Columbia Housing Authority's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program connects participants with case managers who help them develop goals that are achievable within five years. The goals are outlined in a contract, which is signed by the HUD-assisted individual and a representative of the housing authority. When Brandis achieves her goals in five years, she will become eligible to receive funds from an escrow account. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Brandis to realize their potential.

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< [Jaydee from Louisville, KY]>

Jaydee
Louisville, KY

"If anyone knows anything about domestic violence, they know that there is a cycle of abuse -- and part of that cycle is taking away your support system. I knew I needed to reconnect and bring back the people who were going to support me and love me through this time in my life. After I gave birth to my beautiful little boy, I realized the abuse wasn't just impacting me but my baby too. So, one day I left and my family took us in. I started to look for programs, other ways for me to become successful because it was extremely hard for me to pay for daycare, go to work, make ends meet without stretching myself so thin that I wouldn't be able to give my son the best care. We finally found our 'yes' with a program in Louisville called the Family Scholar House. The day I walked into those doors, it was an automatic yes. I got on the waiting list and we had the honor of experiencing so many firsts in this apartment. Because of this program, I was able to go back to school full-time, graduate magna cum laude from the Kent School of Social Work, and then earn my Master of Science in Social Work at the University of Louisville. The assistance from HUD allowed us to thrive. We are a success story. I'm now fully employed and searching to buy my first home! In five years, I'm going to have my first home and my son will be in a great school while I'm doing what I love - showing women they are worthy and empowering them to leave abusive relationships. I'm giving back to the community that's helped me. Most importantly, I'm advocating for those who can't do so for themselves."

The Family Scholar House in Louisville works to end the cycle of poverty and transform their community by empowering families and youth to succeed in education and achieve life-long self-sufficiency. Nearly 80 percent of the participants exit the program with stable employment. HUD funding helps support 279 residents across five campuses. Learn more about Family Scholar House and how to apply. See all Kentucky Scholar House locations.

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< [Mercedes from Santa Ana, CA]>

Mercedes
Santa Ana, CA

"I was born and raised in Santa Ana. Both of my parents emigrated from Mexico to the United States in the 70's. I have two siblings one older and one younger. I loved school but was involved in an abusive relationship at a very young age. I dropped out of school and left home at the age of 15. I had my first child at 16 and lived in a domestic violence shelter for two and a half years. My domestic violence social worker was the one that helped me get into Section 8 housing and the Family Unification Program with the Orange County Housing Authority (OCHA). She will forever be my angel and I will forever be grateful to HUD. I received a Section 8 voucher in 2011. In 2013, I signed up for OCHA's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. The FSS program has been a true blessing for me and my children. It motivated me to set an example for my kids and go back to school. I got my GED and completed a vocational medical billing and coding program. I now have a good job that I love at UCI Medical where I found my passion helping others and, most importantly, I'm setting a positive, healthy example for my kiddos. I am working hard and hoping to purchase a home. For those who have been in similar situations, I would say stay positive and be patient because hard work always pays off."

The Orange County Housing Authority's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program connects participants with case managers who help them develop goals. Enrollees have access to an escrow account, which helps them move toward financial independence. In 2017, HUD invested $75 million in FSS Programs at housing authorities across the country to help people like Mercedes achieve self-sufficiency.

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< [Alison from Billings, MT]>

Alison
Billings, MT

"My mom and my dad physically abused me and my two sisters. I spent most of my childhood scared and trying to protect myself as it was apparent that no one was going to do it for me. When I was 14, I started drinking. I spent the next 23 years of my life addicted to anything that would enable me to not have to be myself. There were many hospital stays, many jail stays, and one involuntary commitment to a treatment center. It was there that I received treatment, gained self-esteem and self-respect, and got a year of sobriety under my belt. In 2011, I was released and able to return to college full-time while working at Denny's. I became eligible for Section 8 housing and eventually enrolled in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program. With HUD assistance, I was able to reach my goal of a college degree. HUD helped me make my dreams come true."

The Housing Authority of Billings' Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program connects participants with case managers who help them develop goals. Enrollees have access to an escrow account, which helps them move toward financial independence. Alison's goals are to get her Master's degree and to buy a house. In 2017, HUD allocated $75 million to the FSS Program at public housing authorities across the country to support people like Alison.

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< [Dianne from Long Beach, CA]>

Dianne
Long Beach, CA

"When I got here, I was recovering from an abusive relationship I had been in. I thought I would have to live with this man for the rest of my life because I couldn't take care of myself. Today, I work and have full custody of my kids. At one time, I thought I wouldn't have anybody on my side after and, now I have so many people on my side to help me out."

Century Villages at Cabrillo (CVC) provides 662 units of permanent supportive housing in Long Beach, CA. CVC provides housing for 2,199 people including 1,042 veterans and 600 families with children. The 27-acre campus has received $66 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and nearly $18 million in HUD Capital Investment.

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< [James from San Diego, CA]>

James
San Diego, CA

"When I was on the streets, I was using drugs and alcohol, it was bad. But I'm a survivor. Living here is like living in heaven. My first day here, I cried all night long. Now I have my own TV, my own bathroom -- it's changed my whole life."

The historic Hotel Churchill has been a fixture in downtown San Diego since 1914 but has fallen into disrepair over the decades. HUD invested more than $12 million in Moving to Work and HOME program funding to help the San Diego Housing Commission pay to rehabilitate and renovate the structure and turn it into 72 rental units for the homeless, including 56 veterans like James, as well as at-risk youth and ex-convicts. Today, the Hotel Churchill stands as a gleaming monument to what can be accomplished when HUD works with state and local leaders to address affordable housing challenges and end homelessness.

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< [Kourtney from Louisville, KY]>

Kourtney
Louisville, KY

"My apartment at Family Scholar House provided me with stability and a sense of community. We're all doing the same thing. We're all struggling with the same thing, so to have the kind of support and encouragement from your neighbors, friends and staff was really empowering and life changing. Having stable housing, allowed me to focus on school and raising my children - it was a safe space to come home to and it was affordable. No better combination. This program allowed me to not worry so much about housing or working to pay for rent. It allowed me to focus solely on school and my kids so that, in the future, I could provide for them the best way possible. It's crazy to think about how far we've come, but I can't help but smile when I think about our future. I'm now a homeowner and I really think the affordable housing made it possible - in combination with the support of the Family Scholar House. Homeownership was my dream after my divorce. It took me 10 years, but I made it. Keep pushing on. You have everything it takes to be successful. Use the tools that you have in front of you and never give up."

The Family Scholar House in Louisville aims to end the cycle of poverty and transform their community by empowering families and youth to succeed in education and achieve life-long self-sufficiency. Nearly 80 percent of the participants exit the program with stable employment. The Family Scholar House received $6.3 million in HUD funding as well as Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) through the Louisville Metro Housing Authority for the current 279 residents on their five campuses. The HCV program partners with local public housing authorities to help low-income individuals and families find affordable housing in the private market. HUD invested over $20 billion in the HCV program in 2017 to help people like Kourtney find an affordable place to live.

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< [Mark from Louisville, KY]>

Mark
Louisville, KY

"I've been struggling with chronic homelessness my whole life. I started off living at the Louisville Center for Women and Families due to certain situations from my early childhood. I found myself living in my van - parked in front of our local Salvation Army. Then I became homeless until I received HUD assistance and moved into Section 8 housing. All I ask for is a roof over my head - something I have not been able to provide for myself. While I hope to expand my barbershop clientele, my main goal is to devote my time to help end youth homelessness. I'm a board member of the Youth Homeless Coalition but I hope to do much more than that. If you are a young person struggling with homelessness, never give up. Never be afraid to ask for help. It could be what you need to change your life."

Working with The Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA), HUD provides rental assistance to more than 4,500 families in Jefferson County, Kentucky. LMHA is recognized as an exemplary housing authority who most recently received Choice Neighborhood planning, action and implementation grants in the effort to revitalize the Russell Neighborhood. Over the last fiscal year, LMHA has received almost $30 million in funding for their rental assistance program from HUD. The Department awarded over $2 billion to its Continuum of Care programs across the country in 2017 to give people like Mark a fresh start.

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< [Shernita from Washington, DC]>

Shernita
Washington, DC

"When I created the vision board my subject was to walk into my vision. I didn't even know what a vision was. I had to think beyond what I see--to create these things that I all accomplished. I'm a homeowner now. I was a single parent, now I'm a wife. And, that was on my vision board to become a wife. Also, for me to purchase a home, I had to save money. So here [referring to her vision board], I had to do everything that I needed to do to save money. Although it wasn't a lot of money to save. But, a little dollar here, and a little fifty cent here. It works because I learned how to make a dollar out of fifteen cents."

Living in public housing for most of her life, Shernita understands the impact the HUD EnVision Center will have in her community. EnVision Centers are centralized hubs where HUD-assisted individuals can receive economic, educational, leadership, and health services. She shared her path to self-sufficiency with those attending the launch of the District's EnVision Center in June. After living in a car, Shernita found housing through HUD's Housing Choice Voucher program and the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA). She is a graduate of DCHA's Family Self Sufficiency program and became a homeowner through the agency's Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program. Today, Shernita works for the DCHA assisting other families who face similar adversities. In 2017, HUD awarded the DC Housing Authority $268 million to support housing assistance programs and other supportive services.

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< [Tiffany from Chicago, IL]>

Tiffany
Chicago, IL

"I started using drugs after a car accident 10 years ago. I got addicted to pain pills and then it moved to heroin. Even though I have two amazing sisters and parents, I have been in and out of treatment and jail ever since and spent a few months living in alleys and abandoned buildings. I've been to other places, but it was never enough. Here at A Safe Haven they work with you to get you everything you need. I've come a long way; I'm 100% better now. I know I can make it if I stay here. I don't ever want to go back. My parole is over, but I will stay to work on recovery and treatment. My goal is to open a kennel. I love dogs and think that is what God wants me to do."

Tiffany struggled with drug abuse and homelessness for a decade before receiving a court recommendation to seek help from A Safe Haven (ASH). Despite her strong relationship with her family, Tiffany lived on the streets and in jail for a number of years as a direct result of her battle with addiction. ASH in Chicago serves as a shelter and support center for people struggling with drug abuse. The Chicago branch was recently named a HUD EnVision Center. Individuals are coached through recovery and supported on their journey to self-sufficiency. HUD awarded over $2 billion to Continuum of Care programs across the country in 2017 to give people like Tiffany a second chance. To learn more about ASH, please visit ASafeHaven.org.

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< [Chevelle from Cincinnati, OH]>

Chevelle
Cincinnati, OH

"The public housing program has affected my life tremendously - in a good way, of course. I enrolled in their Family Self-Sufficiency program and it's given me the push to get up and try again. I got my high school diploma and am on my way to becoming a dental assistant. I'm excited about working towards my next goal - homeownership! If you never try, you will never know. All things are possible and dreams really do come true."

Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority's (CMHA) Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program works with residents to set goals that help lead them to self-sufficiency. They also receive community resources and supportive services to meet these goals. HUD invested $75 million in the FSS program in 2017 to help people like Chevelle become self-sufficient.

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< [Kevin from Columbia, MO]>

Kevin
Columbia, MO

"While I was getting my Master's in Business, I wasn't working and did not know how I was going to pay my rent. I had three young children and was a single parent. My cousin told me that the Columbia Housing Authority had opened for Section 8 housing. I waited in line for several hours and while waiting my head was telling me, 'I am not going to get this.' Boy, was I wrong. I qualified to receive a Housing Choice Voucher and was able to enroll in the Family Self-Sufficiency program. I am so happy that I stayed in line."

The Columbia Housing Authority's (CHA) Family Self-Sufficiency program connects participants with case managers who help them develop goals. Enrollees have access to an escrow account which helps them move toward financial independence. Kevin's goals are to become an established therapist and a homeowner. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Kevin make their dreams come true.

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< [Rosanna from Midwest City, OK]>

Rosanna
Midwest City, OK

"I moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma in 2012 with my three kids and was able to get my very first apartment as a single parent at Port City Acres. Moving from California was the biggest decision of my life at that time because I was leaving an unsafe situation. When I got here, all I had was two boxes of clothes and my children. I had no high school diploma, no job, minimal skills and let's not forget bad credit. All the odds seemed stacked against me at the time. When I met Shirlene, she introduced me to HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency [FSS] program and all it offers. With this program I was able to tell Shirlene my goals and dreams. We sat down and put together a 5-year plan. First, I got my GED and employment - with these two accomplishments, doors to other opportunities opened. I began college courses at Connors State College in Muskogee. Shirlene was able to share workshops such as "Bridges Out of Poverty." After I completed this workshop the next step was a Homebuyer Education class. The amount of opportunity never stopped and with each accomplishment I was searching for the next step. I am a firm believer that my current life for my family would have not been possible without the help of the Muskogee Housing Authority. I graduated my 5-year FSS plan in 3 years and had earned almost S13,000 for our first home. I am now a home owner in Midwest City, Oklahoma. I am married with four children and continue my education at Rose State College. I've studied Business with a focus in Marketing and I'm on track to graduate in Summer 2019. I hope to one day help others as Shirlene, the Muskogee Housing Authority, and the FSS program have helped me."

The Muskogee Housing Authority administers HUD's FSS program, connects HUD-assisted families with the resources, skills and opportunities needed to achieve self-sufficiency. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Rosanna become financially independent.

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< [David from Charleston, SC]>

David
Charleston, SC

"I enrolled into the substance abuse training program in July of 2000. After four attempts, God still did not give up on me. I successfully completed the program and was hired at Goodwill. I worked there for a year before entering the HUD-VASH program. Eventually, I came on part-time at the veterans hospital. I excelled at my job and was hired full-time. The housing program helped me to establish myself back into society and, today, I am independent and eight years sober. I have to thank the staff of the housing program for making me a productive member of society -- clean, sober and independent. Praise Jesus!"

The Housing Authority of the City of Charleston participates in the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program which supports homeless veterans. HUD-VASH is a partnership between HUD's Housing Choice Voucher program and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide rental assistance, case management, and clinical services to those who have served our country. HUD and the VA recently announced a $35 million grant to help veterans like David find a home.

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< [Kelly and Souny from Long Beach, CA]>

Kelly and Souny
Long Beach, CA

"We got the apartment! We just stood there in the aisle at Walmart crying together. It was the most touching time in my life, except for my daughter's birth."

Kelly and Souny recount the day they found out they were selected for an apartment at Century Villages at Cabrillo (CVC). Their limited income and student loans had made it impossible for them to get approved for an apartment. CVC provides 662 units of permanent supportive housing across the community. Every year, CVC provides housing for 2,199 people including 1,042 Veterans and 600 families with children. The 27-acre campus has benefited from $66 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and nearly $18 million in HUD Capital Investment.

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< [Tanya from Anne Arundel, MD]>

Tanya
Anne Arundel, MD

"After the loss of my son to gun violence, I went through a very dark period. I needed to feel complete and decided to go back to college. I enrolled in the Family Self-Sufficiency program. The program helped me turn my dreams into goals. I have the ability to earn and build savings through the escrow account -- it gives me incentive to work harder. Thirty-four years after dropping out of college, I'm proud to say I earned my Bachelor's degree and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Currently, I'm pursuing a double Master's in Christian Care and Divinity. It's never too late to beat the odds and accomplish your dreams!"

The Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program provides job training, educational programs, and money management services to enrollees. HUD-assisted individuals enrolled in the program outline goals they will accomplish through the program. Tanya's goals are to become a licensed chaplain, to own a home, and to open an assisted living facility for vulnerable adults. HUD invested $75 million in FSS in 2017 to help people like Tanya climb the ladder of economic opportunity.

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< [Eric from Long Beach, CA]>

Eric
Long Beach, CA

"Before I came here [Century Villages at Cabrillo], I lived in transitional housing and I had to share everything. There was always too much noise or somebody in your room slamming dominos. Here, I was the first person to use my bathroom. You don't know what a feeling that is! I love being here, and I think for some people this is a stepping stone to other things or other programs. For a lot of us, this is the end of the line. For me, this is my home. There is no other place I would rather be right now."

Century Villages at Cabrillo (CVC) provides 662 units of permanent supportive housing in Long Beach, CA. Every year, CVC provides housing for 2,199 people including 1,042 Veterans and 600 families with children. The 27-acre campus has benefited from $66 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and nearly $18 million in HUD Capital Investment.