The residents' names have been changed to respect their privacy.
Shirley Jackson, resident in a cooperative living community
Before returning to Los Angeles I managed a hotel three hours north of the city. In 2009 the owners ran into trouble and had to sell the hotel. I was out of a job. I came to stay with a friend in Los Angeles but the situation was only temporary. I needed to leave and had nowhere to go. I was referred to Good Shepherd’s shelter for women and I stayed there for six weeks. During this time I received job training from PATH and was told about ALA’s housing. When I interviewed with ALA’s housing counselor I was open to sharing and cooperative living. When a unit at the Cooperative House became available, I moved in. We joke that we’re like a family. Like any family we have our dysfunctional moments but I think cooperative living is an excellent idea. I can have privacy when I want it without ever being totally alone.
Since moving in, I found a part time job in Santa Monica working for a family owned business that manages apartments. 2010 was a blessed year and I’m grateful to ALA for the affordable housing they provide me.
Thomas Walker, resident at Bonnie Brae Village
In August of last year I found myself in a bad situation and I had to reach out to a few organizations to get some assistance. I was having issues with my health, housing and finances. Because I had just signed up for early retirement I was referred to Affordable Living for the Aging. They helped me find housing at Bonnie Brae Village. The social worker at Bonnie Brae Village also referred me to Genesis and I was also referred to St. Barnabas Senior Services. Each of these programs has helped me in their own way. Together they have helped me feel like I am a productive human being again. Everyone from the building management to the supervisors show care and concern. I want other organizations to know about this building because it should be seen as a model. As a senior, I can honestly say that we are not that easy to work with but everyone that works with this building directly or indirectly has mastered the art of patience.
Bernadette Henderson, resident in a cooperative living community
Fourteen years later, I’m still happy I chose cooperative living. Now more than ever I don’t think it’s healthy to live alone. When I first moved into Coop in 1997 I cooked a lot. I would prepare more food than I could eat and share it with my fellow housemate Elsa. Up until a few years ago I never had to depend on others. Knee problems left me unsteady on my feet and after receiving approval for In-Home Supportive Services I had to identify a care provider. With my daughter living in Detroit, we relied on ALA staff to introduce me to a qualified attendant. ALA found a certified nursing assistant with experience as an IHSS provider. When you get to my age you feel the need to have someone around—she is very attentive and helps me feel more secure. I hope to maintain my independence and my status as ALA’s oldest resident.
Darren Smith, resident at Bonnie Brae Village
I would describe myself as a Jack of all trades. I’ve owned businesses, managed properties—I’ve done a little bit of everything. About seven years ago I had trouble with my mental health. Some people in my life manipulated the situation and I lost everything. I started going to a mental health clinic but I ended up homeless and living in my car on the Westside. When you’re homeless, you don’t ever relax. Every day as the sun was going down I had to find a safe spot for the night.
People don’t realize this but being homeless for a long time removes necessary human touch from your life. One day I felt myself slipping. I walked into a restaurant I’d eaten at a thousand times and I said, “I’m suffering.” The wait staff, and the people I’d come to know, hugged me and sat down with me. They gave me what I needed to feel whole again.
I was silently thanking God as I signed my lease for Bonnie Brae Village. The professional staff at ALA helped make the adjustment easier. My top priorities are my mental and physical health so I can maintain a high quality of life. I’m still adjusting but I don’t think I’ll return to the restaurant like that again. The people at Bonnie Brae have put the human touch back in my life.