“I HELP PEOPLE GET AFFORDABLE HOUSING, BUT LOW WAGES HAVE LED TO SHORT-STAFFING. THAT MEANS P”EO
I run the Homekey Program for the California Department of Housing and Community Development (CDHCD). We fund and monitor projects for affordable housing to make sure that the housing is going to the people who need it because once people have housing everything in their life can improve, but without it it’s impossible.
All of us at CDHCD love what we do, but the wages are so low we can’t keep people. These staff shortages not only slow down projects — they hurt our communities. It can take days for us to respond to grantees who are awaiting funding for their buildings, and that means people remain homeless. Believe me, I know. I’m a single mother of 3 kids, two of whom live with me in an affordable housing unit. I was unhoused and lived in my car with my first child until I was finally able to get an apartment.
When you’re unhoused, you can’t shower, you can’t cook, and you’re always sick because it’s always too hot or too cold. When we were living in our car I couldn’t even breastfeed because I couldn’t get enough to eat, so I had to buy expensive formula.
As recently as 2020 during the pandemic when the state furloughed us, I had to get a second job with Amazon making deliveries just to pay the bills.
But it’s hard to complain when my colleagues make even less. Some have to go to food banks and churches to help feed their families. Another co-worker has to live with so many people, her grandmother has to sleep on her couch. We help other people get affordable housing but we can’t afford housing ourselves. How crazy is that?
I do this work because I grew up with people who were unhoused, and I want that cycle to end. Because of our work they’re starting to build apartments in my neighborhood, which helps people like me have the advantages as everyone else. That’s why I’m committed to my job — but it shouldn’t mean that I have to struggle to feed my own family.
– HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTATIVE 2
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (CDHCD)