At the beginning of June 2017, Aamal was born. His name means “hope” in Arabic which is fitting, considering that is exactly what his mother Vanessa was seeking when she entered our Carriage House shelter three weeks later.
“He is everything,” Vanessa said of her son at the end of October, from her apartment at High Meadow Townhomes in Bourne, where a large black faux spider was perched over her doorway, just one of several Halloween decorations that served as a sign of something bigger – this is home.
Since January, Vanessa and her smiling, wide-eyed, adventurous toddler have found stability and happiness in a 44-unit neighborhood that Housing Assistance built and completed with the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) a year ago.
“[Vanessa] really wants a better life for herself and her son and she’s proven it. So far, she’s taken all of the necessary steps to give him a life she did not have.” – AnnMarie Torrey
The pair were one of four families at our Village at Cataumet shelter to move into High Meadow at the beginning of this year. After 18 months in shelter – Vanessa and her son spent time, first at Carriage House and then Cataumet – the pair were able to move forward with their lives when they were chosen for the housing lottery for High Meadow.
While in shelter, she said, she was able to focus on practical life skills, such as fixing her credit, that she would need once she moved into permanent housing. “In the end, you have to keep it in your head that your main goal is stability for you and your family,” she said.
That stability has continued thanks to HomeBASE, a state re-housing program that Housing Assistance manages on Cape Cod and the Islands and which funds up to $10,000 to cover first and last month’s rent, security deposit, and moving expenses that enable families in shelter to move into permanent housing.
For up to one year, HomeBASE clients also have the support of a stabilization worker who meets with them on a regular basis to ensure they can remain in their housing. Housing Assistance’s AnnMarie Torrey has acted in that capacity, supporting Vanessa over the past 11 months.
“She is kind of fearless in her endeavors,” Torrey said. “She really wants a better life for herself and her son and she’s proven it. So far, she’s taken all of the necessary steps to give him a life she did not have.”
Recently, Vanessa secured a job at a local restaurant and has plans to go to school to get her degree so she can become a CNA or registered nurse.
In the short term, she’s planning on celebrating her first holidays with her son in an apartment that she proudly calls her own. “I can’t wait for Christmas so I can put the tree in the front window,” she said. “I’m ready to start traditions with my son… I’m trying to do the things with him I didn’t really do as a kid.”
For once, Vanessa finally can say she has hope in her life. “Everything I have now is because of Housing Assistance,” she said. “I don’t think I would be the same person I am now without them.”