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A Fresh Start Toward Self-Reliance

Her goals of owning a hair salon and a home are closer to becoming reality for Kwanzaa because of what she has accomplished with help from the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) Achievement Academy.

“My confidence levels went up; my credit scores went up. I’m looking forward to being a homeowner and a business owner. And there’s a lot of people here that support you,” Kwanzaa said. “They help you and mentor you in your goals, and they don’t give up on you.”

The “best day in the world” for Kwanzaa and her family was June 5, 2015—the day they became recipients of federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance from SDHC.

Kwanzaa said it took her 30 days to find the Paradise Hills rental where she lives with her children.

Before she obtained rental assistance, Kwanzaa and her children experienced homelessness as a result of domestic violence. They would stay in hotels or with family members and depend on food banks because she did not have a job.

While the voucher brought with it stable housing, the SDHC Achievement Academy gave Kwanzaa the tools and encouragement she needed to start the process of becoming financially self-reliant.

With help from the Family Self-Sufficiency program and the Power of One program for single parents, which assisted with her résumé and job interviewing skills, Kwanzaa found steady employment as a security guard.

She also received guidance rebuilding her credit, and went to business school, taking a continuing education course for aspiring small-business owners.

An experienced hairstylist who also works at a salon as an independent contractor, Kwanzaa is taking steps toward opening her own hair salon.

Kwanzaa said she’s grateful for the assistance she received from the SDHC Achievement Academy and its Power of One program, from which she graduated in the summer of 2018.

“I utilized all of the programs so far, and I really love them. And I would like to continue to utilize all of them as long as I can,” she said.

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