Ashley's Story

Ashley's Story

Ashley is one of the people you have helped by supporting our Creating Pathways Out of Poverty plan. For years, she dealt with mental illness, was shuttled in and out of the foster care system and eventually ended up homeless. Thanks to your support, she finally got the help she needed through permanent supportive housing supplied by United Way and its partners.

When she was only four years old, Ashley was nearly murdered by her own mother and was rushed to the hospital where she remained in a coma for six months. When she awoke, she was quickly shepherded into the foster care system and for the next twelve years, cycled in and out of more homes than she can recall. At the age of 17, she decided that living on the streets was her only way out of a broken system.

She describes this period as the lowest point in her life. “I felt hopeless,” she recalls. She slept on the pavement and begged for change to survive outside of the 7-Eleven. A social worker at Ashley’s school referred her to Hillview, a mental health center for the homeless. Ashley received the appropriate treatment and medication and was placed in a permanent supportive housing unit by United Way partner L.A. Family Housing.

There are as many as 51,000 people like Ashley who currently call the streets of L.A. County home. Every year, we spend $875 million in public resources to manage homelessness, not solve it. Research shows that thoughtful reallocation of existing resources can drastically reduce homelessness. At United Way, our "housing first" approach focuses on getting people off our streets first, then providing them with a network of supportive services to help them stay on track.

Thanks to your compassion and generosity, Ashley, now 22, is thriving in her new permanent supportive housing unit. She’s opened her first bank account, attends serenity group and leads an art club for other tenants. She's also working hard to get her GED and hopes to go to college someday to study to become a professional chef.

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