An Open Door to a Safe Home

tenant-stories-1Living in a house without running water, heat, or electricity, Paul was struggling to make it through each day. His health was failing and he was relying on friends to bring him food.

“I was a slow moving target on the streets. I was attacked several times, I lost many of my teeth and even had my jaw broken. My situation was becoming very desperate.”

Paul was very isolated and did not know where to turn, he was used to fending for himself but his failing health was becoming an issue. He had a friend that told him about some supportive housing units being created, which later became Avalon Housing. Paul was the very first tenant in the first house on West William Street in Ann Arbor.

“After I moved in I thought…I don’t have to be afraid or worry about running out of money or living in sub-standard housing…I can sleep at night.”

Living at Avalon means Paul has a permanent place to call home. His apartment is comfortable, safe, and stable. He was also able to get the medical care he desperately needed so now he can stay healthy and independent.

“My life has been substantially stabilized because of the support I have gotten from Avalon over the years. If it wasn’t for them, I would be in a disastrous situation. I am very grateful to the people that started Avalon Housing.”

To learn more about supportive housing Click Here.

A Community for Kennetha

keenethaKennetha’s mother was having financial, emotional, and relationship difficulties that were making her housing situation very unstable. Eventually, she needed to take drastic measures and moved her children, including Kennetha, into a family shelter. Kennetha remembers what that was like.

“The shelter required us to go to church on Sundays, share a space with another family, have a curfew, and eat our meals with these people we did not know — it all seemed so strange to me. We moved around a lot which meant changing schools all the time, it did not feel good.”

After moving into Carrot Way in 2005, Kennetha felt she had stability for the first time in a long time. She knew it was not temporary and that she did not have to be on someone else’s schedule. She felt like she was finally home.

“As a kid, that process of moving around is confusing, never being settled in a school. I never felt like my feet were planted on the ground.”

Now, Kennetha is 20 years old and she has moved into her own Avalon apartment. After graduating high-school she married and has a baby of her own. She works part-time in the Carrot Way Community Center with the kids in Avalon’s after-school program.

“I used to love coming to the community center, it was an outlet for us kids to be with our friends and bond. Now, I get to make sure the kids here get that same experience. Because everyday, someone is going through something, but this center brings people together.”

For Kennetha, growing up at Carrot Way meant having a community she could depend on and having the stability she needed to get through school and have a life of her own. She has a passion for children and hopes to become a teacher one day so she can help children like so many people helped her.

A New Beginning for Richard

richardRichard wants to help others by sharing his story. He wants people to know that it is not easy to overcome mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction. That it is not easy to maintain sobriety while living in shelters and on the streets. That it is not easy to give up one way of life and start another.

“When I was homeless, I used to start every day by riding the bus from one end of the route to the other and then I would go to the library or the Alanon Club so I could stay in a safe and positive environment.”

And then Richard felt it was time for a change. That decision came from within. Richard says that he had to go to a dark side and come back through it. Every day he still struggles to keep that old way of life away from his new one.

Avalon was the beginning of that new life for Richard, a place where he feels people care about him. He has been in recovery for 7 years and has slowly reconnected with his family. He is also attending Washtenaw Community College and loves learning. His goal is to get his Master’s in computer technology.

“It has been a long time since I had a place to call my own. I still remember the day I moved in 4 years ago…It was raining and I thought, “Wow, thank God I made it in before the rain.”

A Closed Door Finally Opens...

tenant-stories-2Howard has been no stranger to hard work. At the age of 74 he was still working as a house keeper at the Holiday Inn -although it wasn’t because he wasn’t ready and willing to retire. He knew he wouldn’t be able to afford his rent if his only income was social security. He had been on the waiting list for a Section 8 subsidy for three years and he was hopeful that an affordable apartment would come available for him by the time he would really need it.

“I sort of messed up and made some bad decisions when I was younger that did not allow me to prepare for older life. Then I got the call from Avalon Housing, it was a godsend for me. I was so relieved that I could retire, stay in Ann Arbor, and have a very nice apartment on William Street that I could afford on my meager social security check.”

Now technically retired, Howard likes to keep busy and enjoys working in the garden and around the house. In 2006 he became a resident manager of his building.

“I like to keep things looking nice; I take pride in the appearance of my apartment, this is my home and I am proud to live here. I look after the building; keeping the hallways clean, raking the leaves and shoveling the snow when we have less than two inches. It keeps me fit and I enjoy it.”

Howard is also proud to live in the same neighborhood as his doctor, who he sees on occasion while taking his afternoon walks. Avalon Housing uses a scattered site model without a big sign in front so tenants do not have to feel the stigma of living in affordable housing. This model allows our housing to blend seamlessly into well-established neighborhoods. We pride ourselves in looking the best on the block, thanks to our resident managers like Howard.

To learn more about our resident manager program Click Here.

When One Door Closes, Another One Opens

tenant-stories-3After 25 years in an unhappy marriage, Carol finally had the strength to leave with two young children in tow. Without job skills or child support she was very worried about how she was going to provide for her family.

“The kids were my first concern; I did not want them to have to leave their schools because I could not afford to live in Ann Arbor. The divorce was traumatizing enough, so the thought of them having to start over and leave their friends was a lot to think about. Then the call came from Avalon, they had a two bedroom apartment for me on Division Street.”

Because Avalon apartments are all on the bus lines, Carol was able to enroll in Washtenaw Community College and take administrative assistance courses. She finished after three years and was hired at the University of Michigan as an administrative assistant.

“I was able to move out to a larger apartment after getting my first job, but without Avalon I would not have been able to afford rent and feed my kids while I was going to school. I am so grateful, that is why once my children were off to college I began volunteering. It was important for me to give back; I even had a 60th birthday party for myself and asked everyone to make a donation to Avalon.”

Carol retired from U of M in 2010 and never stopped thinking about Avalon Housing, so much so that she applied for a part-time receptionist position and now works for Avalon. If you call Avalon, she will be the one answering the phone, be sure to say hi.

From tenant to volunteer to donor to employee, Carol has been true to Avalon Housing.