By Vicky Nguyen, Tustin, Spectrum News 1
- Orange County United Way has helped house more than 250 people in 164 households since the launch of the program
- After 12 months, 93% of the program recipients remain permanently housed
- The program provides financial incentives such as double security deposits, sign-on bonus, holding fees, and other assurances for property owners who rent units to individuals, veterans, and families with a housing voucher
- WelcomeHomeOC is endorsed by the Apartment Association of Orange County and the California Apartment Association
TUSTIN, Calif. — When the going gets tough, Stephanie Rohlfing turns to her books to feel safe.
“I have found so much peace within myself from the words I’ve read,” Rohlfing said.
Rohlfing is a 67-year-old grandmother. She was diagnosed with thyroid issues as a teenager and has continued battling several health conditions throughout her adulthood. Her illnesses makes her vulnerable to the coronavirus. Fortunately, Rohlfing now has a home to live in.
“This place just gives me security and safety. It has allowed me to tell my kids not to worry and that I am fine. They believe me now, but the last few years was always questionable,” says Rohlfing, a Tustin resident.
Just under two years ago, Rohlfing didn’t have a roof over her head.
“In the summer of 2014, my husband lost his job, we lost the apartment and he and I subsequently separated,” said Rohlfing.
All this happened while Rohlfing endured chronic health conditions, landing her in the hospital. At one point, Rohlfing stayed at a homeless shelter in Fullerton.
“You’re sleeping on the floor with 200 strangers and it can be violent at times depending on the mental condition and drug condition of some people,” said Rohlfing.
That chapter eventually took a turn. Rohlfing got connected to a nonprofit which introduced her to an organization called Orange County United Way which helped her find housing with section 8 rental assistance. Section 8 is a federal government program that assists very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled so they can afford housing.
“It was like an answer to a prayer when I got the call,” said Rohlfing.