For Yasmina Verna and her four children, finding and maintaining secure housing hasn’t been easy. The 35-year-old mother has worked two or three jobs to provide for her kids, Kayleah (12), Trey (9), Maggie (5), and “DJ” (8 months), yet sometimes “home” has been a hotel room or other temporary accommodation. Despite the hardships she faced, Yasmina was determined to show her children that she would not give up hope that they could have a better life through patience and hard work.
In 2019, Yasmina was able to rent a house, and she took in a roommate to help with expenses. Although the family’s living situation seemed to be improving, a number of setbacks caused further instability and emotional trauma. The landlord disapproved of Yasmina’s roommate and refused to do repairs to the house, even when the heating and hot water system failed. In April 2020, as the pandemic was starting to spread across the region, the family was forced to move out of their home due to uninhabitable conditions. Unable to find an affordable apartment to move into, Yasmina and her children were homeless again. For the next ten months, they moved from hotel to hotel around Ulster County, struggling to find a safe and permanent housing situation.
In early February 2021, a unit became available in Woodstock Commons. After working with staff, we were able to place the Verna family in their apartment with a Section 8 voucher!
With tears in her eyes, Yasmina shared her experience with us:
“I cannot even express how thankful I am for you guys and the program that you have. RUPCO pushed for me. Maria, everyone pushed for me! I cannot take the credit for myself, everybody was a team. They made it work, even when I was ready it give up, you know, it was too much at certain times. I could’ve lost the voucher because nobody wants to help you move in a pandemic. So for this unit to open up, during the pandemic, I am just overwhelmed with happiness, and so are my children and I couldn’t have asked for anything more!”
“The initial feeling I had when I opened the door to the apartment was that God had answered my prayers! It was heartfelt, I was just so overcome with joy, we were finally over the suffering….the pain we had to go through…it was all worthwhile! My kids are so happy right now! They are outside playing right now. It feels so good to not have to worry about them.”
Through all of the adversity she has faced, including the loss of family member, the challenge of homelessness, and a dangerous pandemic, Yasmina has maintained a positive and resilient outlook. “I tell my kids that we’ve got to keep up the good work. It doesn’t stop just because we’re here, you still got to put in hard work to get what you deserve. Don’t give up – you will get what you ask for. You just have to be patient and work hard,” she said. Giving credit to her Caribbean parents for giving her a strong willpower to never give up, Yasmina explained, “They taught me to work hard, have goals, ambition, and that nothing in life comes for free.”
Yasmina’s story is a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of safe, stable, and affordable housing.