Ronnie and Perla were sleeping in their car. Ronnie had lost his job, bills started piling up, they fell behind on rent, and before they knew it they found themselves homeless. Not knowing where to go or what to do, Ronnie started looking around for shelters. His wife Perla however, was apprehensive.
“I was actually scared when my husband told me we’d have to go to a shelter” said Perla, “I was like, ‘No!’ I used to hear that everyone would sleep in the same area with no privacy.”
This is not an uncommon fear for families experiencing homelessness for the first time. The thought of being in a strange place with your children sleeping around people you don’t know is a scary one. However, Door of Hope exists specifically to serve families, so each family that enters has their own room with a key. This gives families peace of mind. They know not only that they are safe, but even when they aren’t home their belongings are safe.
Door of Hope found out about the Lopez family’s situation from a partnering agency and reached out.
“Door of Hope called me and I told them we were down the street in our car” said Ronnie. “They asked if I had a place to stay because they didn’t have a room ready. I was like, ‘No. We’re just staying in the car but we’re making the best of it. The staff were like, ‘We don’t want you to do that.’ They told us to get our stuff and come back that same night. They set up two bunk beds for us and moved all the kids’ stuff in. I was amazed at how they helped us at a moment’s notice. I honestly didn’t think I’d get the spot.”
Ronnie and Perla felt a huge sense of relief knowing that their kids were now safe and in beds of their own. Parents feel a huge sense of guilt when they become homeless. They feel like they have failed their children, regardless of what the circumstances are. Even though Ronnie and Perla were homeless, they did everything they could to shield the kids from what they were experiencing.
“Sleeping in the car with four kids wasn’t comfortable. My husband tried to do everything fun for them. He didn’t want them to remember the bad stuff. We would go sleep at the beach and play them movies. My daughter remembers that—it was something fun for them. Then we came here and they were so happy. They are so happy to be here.” - Perla
Door of Hope’s mission is to equip families experiencing homelessness to rebuild their lives. After moving into Door of Hope, the Lopez family hit the ground running. Ronnie and Perla were connected with their case manager, and their children were enrolled in the kids program.
The case manager’s primary focus is to work with the family to chart an achievable path back to self-sufficiency and permanent housing. Carrian, the case manager, worked with Ronnie and Perla daily to encourage them and ensure they were on track to meet their goals. In addition to case management, both of them went through mandatory weekly counseling, life skills classes, financial literacy, and career coaching. Ronnie was able to find a job and they started saving money again.
“When we first came in we were behind on bills. But right now we’re doing good. We’re saving and opened a bank account. I feel more responsible as a parent; I’m a better husband, a better father. I’m open-mined to trying new things.” - Ronnie
Perla had never graduated from High School. While at Door of Hope she was afforded the opportunity to complete her outstanding credits through a partnership with the Pasadena City Library. Door of Hope was able to support by providing a backpack, school supplies, and tutoring. Perla is now attending Pasadena City College and is on the verge of graduating!
The kids have been enrolled in the Door of Hope kids program and have been catching up in school. They’ve received tutoring almost daily and their progress has been amazing! In addition they’ve been able to participate in field trips like trips to the zoo, museums, and many other first time experiences.
“The kids are doing good in school and that has helped a lot too. My son wasn’t that good at school but now they have help with their homework and they have tutoring and that’s a big help right there! We never thought that DOH would have so many ways to help a family; we’re going to miss all this! It’s going to feel different. We have family here.” – Perla
The Lopez family has now moved into their own place. Door of Hope’s Rapid-Rehousing specialist, Tatiana, worked with them to find a home that was safe, clean, and within budget. When a family graduates from Door of Hope, we have a graduation ceremony. It’s essentially a big party, a time for staff, families, and the graduating family to eat together and share memories. Our In-Kind and facilities staff, Larry and Tyler, makes sure that each family’s home is furnished before they move in.
After the graduation we gift the families with some of the essentials, cookware, household goods, and cleaning supplies. Then Executive Director, Tim Peters, as well as a few other staff members escort the families to their new house and does a house blessing.
“When we leave our thing is going to be to give back because I had a rough patch in my life but people gave us hope again when we thought there was no more. Now I know why they call it ‘Door of Hope.’” - Ronnie
Ronnie and Perla’s story is not unique. In the greater Los Angeles area over 7000 members of families are homeless, over 4000 of those are children. Door of Hope has been working hard to fight family homelessness for 30 years now. We are so proud of Ronnie and Perla’s journey. They came to Door of Hope in a place of fear and brokenness, and have worked so hard to transform their lives.
“This family was so receptive to guidance and advice. They knew how much we cared about them and their children, and they took the tools we gave them and implemented them in their lives. They are now seeing the benefits. The future is bright for the Lopez family.” – Carrian Troxler (Case Manager)