Five years ago, Yvonne Crapo likely would have been unable to tell you where she was going to sleep at night.
At the time, Yvonne had lost touch with her three daughters and had all but exhausted the generosity of friends with couches in the Bay Area.
Spending the night in a public park was always a last resort but not unheard of for Yvonne, now 53, who has struggled with drug addiction, abusive relationships and mental illness throughout her life.
Yvonne first found herself homeless after suffering a breakdown following the death of her grandson six years ago. She has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as severe depression and anxiety.
“When you’re in that deep dark hole, you’re just digging to get out,” Yvonne recalls.
But against even her own expectations, Yvonne did manage to dig her way out.
After finding herself in an emergency shelter in late 2012, Yvonne got back on her medications and eventually made her way into Meekland House, a transitional housing facility in Hayward, where she became resident manager during the six months she lived there.
It was there that Yvonne involved herself with Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, a local program that provides resources to homeless individuals, whether that be housing, access to mental health or employment opportunities.
Once she felt stable, Yvonne said that she began applying for affordable housing in the East Bay. It took six months for Yvonne to be selected as a resident of The Savoy Apartments, a newly renovated affordable housing complex in Oakland, and another two months to finalize paperwork before she got her keys.
“I never thought I would make it this far,” she says. “I thought that only happened to the lucky people.”
While waiting to move in, she worked with BOSS to budget the Social Security money she receives and what was left of the inheritance her grandmother left her and began collecting furniture and kitchen utensils to furnish her new apartment. Finally, on April 1, she moved in.
“We hated to see her go,” says Calvin Sanders, Yvonne’s friend and housemate at Meekland House, where he has lived since last December. “What she accomplished, as far as getting permanent housing, we’re going through the same thing now, so it’s nice to see her succeed.”
Yvonne pays $250 a month for her one-room apartment, which is furnished with bathroom, bed and TV and has a modest kitchen. The Oakland Housing Authority covers the remaining $550.
“This is mine,” she says proudly. “I can stay here as long as I want. I don’t plan on leaving any time soon.”
Besides working on improving her mental and physical health and enjoying her new home, Yvonne is now able to lead a busy life. She continues for volunteer for the BOSS Community Organizing Team, raising support for the Homeless Bill of Rights and occasionally leading workshops at the transitional home in Hayward where she once stayed.
She has also re-established contact with two of her three daughters and makes time to see her 8-year-old grandson every two weeks.
“I can never in life say ‘I’m all alone and nobody loves me,’ cause that’s not true anymore,” Yvonne says. “I cannot spend my next 50 years like I spent the first 50. Life is too precious and too much fun.”
Contact Adelyn Baxter at [email protected].