Family from the Coast Finds Safe Harbor in Eugene
If you’ve visited Newport on the Oregon Coast lately, booming as it is with upscale abodes, you’ll understand the circumstances that brought JR and his daughter to Eugene in search of affordable housing. Little did JR know at the time that his status as a military veteran would make the difference in an equally tough housing market.
A single dad, house painter, licensed contractor, and girls’ basketball coach, JR was recovering from a work injury when notice arrived ordering him to vacate their apartment due to a change in management and pending reconstruction of the building.
It was March 2019. Laws enacted since might have saved JR’s apartment, at least temporarily. At the time, there seemed to be no choice but to pack up the household and move to Eugene, where the tight housing market quickly forced JR and his daughter into an emergency shelter.
The tide turned there, when JR learned about St. Vincent de Paul’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Enrollment in SSVF opened the doors to food and job assistance, and other critical services, including the Section 8 voucher that supports their student housing.
Student housing? That’s right. JR’s daughter is enrolled in a school that addresses her special challenges, and she’s an emerging Taekwondo artist. JR attended Lane Community College with help from the VA. He’s now enrolled at the University of Oregon.
“The voice of many is far greater than the voice of one.” — Anne Williams
Anne Williams died in late February 2020, but her words echo in the ears of her successor at SVdP, Foster Martinez, Director of Housing Programs. “Divestment of affordable housing leads to a rapid rise in homelessness,” he said. “Today, it takes excellent efforts within our community to increase access to housing for our nation’s Veterans experiencing homelessness. It takes a community with one voice to work together, and together we can change the narrative. I am proud to be a part of that voice here with SSVF and SVdP.”