Rico’s path to homelessness was an unlucky sequence of events. He was living with his girlfriend and their one year old son, when his landlord began to have difficulties with Alzheimer’s. Due to the landlord’s instability, the property was transferred over to a friend who was given power of attorney. The new landlord decided to increase Rico’s rent, which created a financial strain on the family. Around the same time, Rico found out that he had another son from a previous relationship and that the son was in child protective services. Soon after, Rico’s girlfriend decided to move in with her mother and Rico, although employed as a fitness trainer, was unable to make the house payments on his own. It was at this point that Rico and his one year old son became homeless. They slept in his car for a few nights, and slept over at friend’s and family’s places. Rico ultimately concluded that this was no life for him and his son.
Rico decided to go to the Department of Children and Family Services for help and asked about applying for transitional housing. Rico remained homeless for two more months before he was able to obtain temporary housing. He says that he got in “pretty quick” compared to other people he heard about. The transitional shelter was structured but he says it did not bother him, “I just wanted to be safe and be with my kids.”
Rico was in transitional housing for 14 months before he was able to find housing through a Section 8 voucher. When he moved out of the transitional shelter he was connected to Imagine L.A., a non-profit organization which provided various supports through faith based mentorship. Imagine L.A. helped Rico with budgeting, something he always struggled with, and provided his son who has dyslexia with academic tutoring. Rico’s mentors have also helped him obtain computer classes, provided assistance with car troubles and have even gone to his children’s school programs when he had to go out of town for business.
Once Rico was beginning to get his life back together, he started volunteering with the Department of Children and Family Services. He was a mentor and an advocate, and worked with parents that had children in the system. His volunteer position turned into a paid position and now Rico is a supervisor. He runs one of the biggest offices in L.A. and has four employees who work for him!
We asked Rico if being homeless changed his perspective on homelessness, and he had the following to say:
For more information on Imagine LA, visit their website at www.imaginela.org
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