A pandemic has quarantined millions of Californians in our homes, but thousands have no
safe place in which to shelter. It is for those neighbors that we are building Bridge Housing Communities, a collaboration with the City of San José and HomeFirst. With the first community of 40 cabins completed, this collaboration is already providing safe and habitable interim housing, while HomeFirst is providing an array of on-site supportive services and building a bridge to permanent housing.
Juanita is the community’s first success story. After ten years of homelessness, Juanita is now in her own apartment. Just three weeks at Bridge Housing were the transition between living in a tent along Coyote Creek and planning the décor for her new apartment.
When she learned about Bridge Housing Communities, Juanita wasted no time. “I called them the same day and set up an appointment. Within two weeks, I was there.” And while she did enjoy access to laundry, a computing center, and a kitchen, Juanita didn’t spend much time in the cabin community. Between meeting with her HomeFirst case manager, apartment hunting, and job interviews, she stayed busy.
She calls Bridge Housing her “booster seat” because of the momentum she felt. “The booster seat picked me up, gave me a lift,” Juanita says. “A lot of people, when they get into certain situations, they get depressed. And when you get depressed, you just don’t want to do anything. And so, this little booster seat is needed. For people to get their self-esteem back, that motivation to keep going.”
And that motivation has kept driving Juanita now that she’s moved on. As she looks at her future – considering options like culinary school and social work – she says with a smile:
“Who’s to say ten years from now I can’t do both? I can’t do it all?”