The Structure of Success: Tahira’s Story

tahira

The Structure of Success: Tahira’s Story

In Teresa’s Interim Housing Program, women develop job skills, meet their health goals, and work on healthy relationship skills. Tahira knows that the structure of Teresa’s has put her on track to stable housing and a better life for herself and her three children.

When a case manager referred Tahira to Teresa’s Interim Housing Program, she was reluctant to go. She was staying with a cousin, and she told her case manager, “I don’t want to go to another shelter, I can’t do this.” Her older sister had lived in and out of shelters for years: “That was my motivation to never be in a shelter. That was my greatest fear,” Tahira says.

But she found that Teresa’s is completely different than a shelter: it’s a program. “If you work this program, you will be successful,” Tahira says. “There’s no doubt.”

While the structure of the program is challenging, it’s also effective. Tahira has seen six women move on from Teresa’s Interim Housing Program into stable, permanent housing. She’s ready to move on, too: “When I wake up in the morning, I say, ‘I won’t be here tomorrow.’ That’s one of my affirmations. And slowly but surely, a year and a half later, I won’t be here tomorrow.”

Despite the difficulty of finding affordable family housing, Tahira was able to locate a subsidized apartment for herself and her three children.  “Through this journey, I had my children with me for the first seven months, and I decided that I didn’t want them to experience [homelessness]. Ever since then I’ve been in single women’s shelters,” she recalls. She sent her children to live with relatives in the suburbs. Tahira knows “they’re very successful kids”:  her youngest was just accepted to a gifted program, her 15 year old competed in Junior Olympics, and her eldest is preparing to attend college while working her first job. But her kids have also witnessed some of the trauma that led Tahira to her experience of homelessness.

“I was in an abusive relationship,” she recalls, “and prior to that I had been sexually assaulted. I came out of my bedroom one day, and my son said, ‘We’re calling 311.’ He was 12 or 13 at the time. He was explaining to me: you’re gonna die if you stay here.”

“We left, because my son said, ‘That’s it. You can’t do this anymore.’”

Now Tahira can start a new life for herself and her family. “I’m so blessed that I have family housing,” she says. She knows that the structure of Teresa’s Program helped her succeed: “I’ve spoken to people who’ve been homeless for years, and for whatever reason they can’t end the cycle. So I’m thankful that I’m able to say, after this short period of time, ‘This is over.’ I can stand on my own two feet. I’ve ended the cycle.”

“I’m just really thankful for Deborah’s Place,” she adds. “Teresa’s Program is awesome.”

In Fiscal Year 2015, 26 women like Tahira found their path towards stability and success through Teresa’s Interim Housing Program.

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