My mother is one of the most resilient women I know. She was determined to do whatever she had to so that her children had a roof over their heads. My mother grew up in a major metropolitan city, and, after leaving my father shortly after I was born, my grandparents took us in while my mother figured out what to do next.
She applied and received a unit in a low-income housing development, one that allowed her to move us out of the city into an affordable home in a quiet suburban town. It was one of those towns where it is best to just blend in, something that was harder to do being from a Mexican-American family receiving public assistance. This move was not always easy, but she made that choice for us and for the great schools and opportunities this town would give to her children. But more than that – the subsidized that was available gave my family and I a sense of security and stability for nearly 16 years.
That is until we were evicted from our home.
I was in high school at the time. My mother had been organizing other single mothers in our community to fight back against the systemic discrimination they faced in subsidized . After years of harassment and court cases that exhausted our limited resources, my family was forced to out of our home. Thankfully, my grandparents and aunts and uncles came together to help my mother cover the rent in an unsubsidized place. But my mother still deals with a sense of displacement at losing her home, the place where she raised me and my siblings.
Many are not as lucky as we were. We had the support to find and make a new home for ourselves. But had we not had that support, we could easily have ended up homeless.
Because of where I lived, I was given the chance to focus on being a student and to pursue my own dreams. I went on to college and then graduate school, and built a career and a life. The struggle my family faced to keep our safe and affordable housing gave me an understanding of what it means to be afraid of losing your home and of why my mother was so willing to fight for our home – because I know now that where I lived changed my opportunities in life.
That is why I support fair housing in my community. Because no matter your income, everyone should be able to make the choice to live somewhere that gives their kids the opportunity to achieve.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, we will be sharing stories throughout this year about how where someone lived has impacted their life, and why that person supports fair housing in their community. If you would like to share your story with us, please email us as firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “My Fair Housing Story”. You can also share your fair housing by posting on your Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MyFairHousingStory.