When Erika left an abusive partner, she and her two small children struggled to find a place to live. Read her story below.
I’m a native San Franciscan; I grew up in the Mission district. I have two children: an eight-year-old, Nelson, and a five-year-old, Ghael.
Up until a couple years ago, I had a semi-stable home. But the father of my children was abusive, and I had to leave. It was traumatic, and it completely changed our lives. We lost our family. We lost our home.
We were left bouncing around from my sister’s to my mother’s for a year. They both live in studios. At my sister’s, there were five of us; we slept on the floor for an entire year.
I had been applying for affordable apartments, and I had had no luck. I would go to the meeting, where they run the raffle and call out the numbers of the people whose names are drawn. This time, I decided to make it a matter of prayer and leave it alone. I checked a week after the raffle. I looked at the numbers, and couldn’t believe that my ticket was number one. I was in disbelief; I had to look at it over and over again at each and every single number. I was in disbelief until the day I came to sign the contract.
Signing the contract felt amazing. It felt like a new beginning, a fresh start. The manager, Rhina, is such a sweetheart. She helped me a lot. I was really scared to fill out of the application, I had never done anything like signing a lease by myself. I had been in this relationship for 14 years, and he had been in charge of everything. I was really scared, and Rhina was such a great help. From the beginning, she noticed that I was insecure, and she walked me through the lease. She was really nice. I love her. My kids love her. Every time we walk through the building, they knock on the glass and they wave at her, every single time.
My kids are so happy. They are so excited to finally have their own bed, in their own home. They also love being able to have homemade food. For a whole year, we were eating so much fast food because it was hard to be in my mother’s and my sister’s space. It was really hard. And our schedules were not the same. Now, they’re happy to come home and have homemade meals.
Now that I have a home, I would love to get back into catering. I would love to start my own business.
For my children, I hope they gain confidence because now they have a place to call home, where there’s security. It’s safe. Whenever you feel scared, you can always go back home. I’m excited because in this building they’re going to have a kids’ program soon where they’re going to be able to go after school and do homework. They’re really excited for that, they can’t wait.
There are so many families out there going through the same things I had to go through with my children. There are not enough words to say how appreciative my children and my family and I are of this opportunity; it’s life-changing. And not just for me, but for every single person Mercy Housing houses.