There is no place quite like Bertha’s apartment.
She keeps her home incredibly tidy and neat and is proud to show it off to her guests. Her apartment is chock-full of small projects that help her keep her home organized and beautiful.
Bertha has a routine, a vision for her future, and stability.
Bertha didn’t always have that type of stability when she was homeless and living on the streets of Los Angeles.
Bertha had retired from her job as a nurse assistant after more than two decades. She moved in with her daughter and son-in-law to help take care of her newborn grandson while the parents worked.
She was driven to homelessness after silently enduring her daughter’s then-husband’s constant subtle harassment.
Bertha was so tormented by his dislike and his actions against her that she could not take it one afternoon and fled their home in a hurry without telling anyone.
When Bertha was homeless, the streets took an immense toll on her health. Her legs were painfully swollen from being on her feet all day and walking long distances.
Bertha got a helping hand from a concerned passer-by one day and was brought to the Downtown Women’s Center.
She found shelter at a local mission and came to DWC every day.
Eager to help out with chores, she started out drying dishes, and as she expanded her role was eventually able to reconnect with one of her true passions in life: cooking.
She connected to a DWC case manager and was soon on track to obtain permanent supportive housing.
A Note About DWC’s Permanent Supportive Housing: DWC provides 119 units of permanent supportive housing. 95% of the women we house stay housed permanently – a high success rate and a major milestone toward ending homelessness.
Little by little, Bertha’s life turned around as she described having her own apartment to call home.
“I had a kitchen again, my mind was strong. There was hope.”
Every time Bertha enters her apartment, she removes her shoes and tidily puts them away.
“My shoes walk on San Pedro Street. I am very independent, my mind is here [she points to her temple], not in my shoes.”
Looking back on her experience of homelessness, Bertha remarked “Respect is the most important thing in your life, and you don’t need to buy respect, just listen to people and understand where they are coming from.”
Photos by: Erica Kawamoto Hsu