Did you know over 300,000 Orange County residents live below the poverty line? With cost-of-living skyrocketing and wages failing to keep pace, it’s no wonder. Fair Market Rent is currently $2,783 for a two-bedroom unit. The monthly gross income needed to afford this—landlords typically require renters earn 2-3 times their monthly rent—is $7,654 or $48 an hour for a single income household.
For so many in our community—especially those Pathways of Hope serves—this is simply out of reach.
That’s why the team here has been assessing our housing programs over the past two years to determine the best course of action. We worked with our partners at the County of Orange and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to rework our entire rental subsidy program, which had grown more and more impractical to operate amid this crisis.
We want to provide more than a band-aid for our struggling neighbors. We want to help the chronically homeless, who otherwise have so few resources available to them in Orange County. We want to make the biggest impact for families with the greatest vulnerability, the highest needs and the steepest barriers to housing.
So we transformed our rental subsidy program into a permanent housing program. It launched on November 1st with the very ambitious goal of housing six chronically homeless families in time for the holidays. We knew this would call for an incredibly high standard of care and coordination as our team would not only have to match all six families to this opportunity and develop an individualized housing plan for each but also recruit and retain local landlords to collaborate with us.
Not only did we do it, we did it all within 45 days of the program’s launch. That’s right—we achieved our goal of housing six chronically homeless families a full two weeks before Christmas!
You can read about one of the family’s long, difficult journey out of homelessness below. They’ll get to enjoy Christmas together as a family under one roof.
This is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the Pathways team and to our community of supporters like you, whose investment in our mission empowers us to set such ambitious goals. Every single person helped through this program has had their homelessness ended permanently and will truly be home for the holidays!
With gratitude and warm wishes for the holiday,
“I am a forty-two-year-old mother of nine who grew up in Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, I never met my birth parents as they had an addiction. I was born addicted to drugs, leading me to be put in the system, and by thirteen, I was running away. I was running away, being wild, and looking for love in all the wrong places. I went through a lot in my teens and young adult life, and wild would be an understatement.
In 1996, I met the love of my life and had four children. Life was hard since he was from another country, and I didn’t know how to be an adult. We struggled financially with housing and soon became homeless. We started to seek help to find housing, but then my husband died. It wasn’t until after he died that someone told me about shelters. We were staying in shelters off and on, and I figured I would be able to get my stuff together. It was harder than expected trying to manage childcare, work, finding a place to stay, etc. Something had to give.
After leaving my last toxic relationship in 2020, I started trying to get my life back in order. However, maintaining housing has always been challenging. Working has never been an issue; I just never made enough money. So again, we were homeless. Then I got pregnant with my now ten-month-old baby girl and after six months of calling shelters every day in 2022 that summer, we found a place that took pregnant women. We were able to stay there for ten months before getting connected to Pathways of Hope. I am very excited about this new start. It has been a long, scary journey, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are moving forward to a brighter future with love and support from everyone working to make our dream of permanent housing come true. Thank you so much for hearing our story!”
MORE ABOUT LISETTE’S JOURNEY:
When Lisette entered Pathways of Hope’s emergency shelter in August of 2023—after transitioning out of a different shelter—she was already working a full-time job while raising her six children on her own. Still, she hit the ground running, asking for referrals and resources, and proactively communicating with us about the steps she was taking to make progress towards the housing goals she’d developed with her case manager.
While some families we work with only need our support through the process of searching for, securing and moving into housing, others—especially chronically homeless families like Lisette’s–have a greater vulnerability and higher needs. Fortunately, creating meaningful, sustainable change in the lives of our clients is what we do here at Pathways—and is baked into the very design of our new permanent housing program—and Lisette’s case manager determined that her family would be eligible for the ongoing support and wraparound case management offered by the new program in order to ensure long-lasting housing stability.
Lisette completed the enrollment process and was very soon after placed in a three-bedroom home in Garden Grove. She was sponsored by the nonprofit interior design firm Pen + Napkin, who met with and worked alongside Lisette to ensure the home would reflect not only her tastes but the kind of environment she wants to cultivate for her family. Additionally, three members of Pathways of Hope’s own management team were so moved by Lisette’s story they came together to sponsor Lisette’s family for our annual Adopt-a-Family holiday program and have purchased a wide variety of gifts for Lisette and her children: Lego kits, Mario toys, yo-yos, and the seeds asked for by the eldest daughter so she can plant a garden at her new home.