Teri, 64, has bounced between motels, the street and homeless shelters since 2010, struggling with mental health challenges that escalated after the unexpected death of her fiancé, Robert, in 2022.

Despite these hurdles, Teri still smiles endlessly and says, “Never give up hope!”

Today, she has more reason for hope than ever before, as a new resident of Valley Senior Village in Escondido, a National CORE senior affordable housing community with 50 beautiful apartments, including 25 set aside for seniors who have experienced homelessness.

“My Robert would be ecstatic – I know he’s looking down at me, he’s always protecting me,” Teri said. “He would be so happy that I found housing.”

Born in Chicago, the oldest of five children, Teri, grew up in Brown Deer, Wisconsin and also spent several years living with her family in Escondido. Her family’s limited finances meant she couldn’t attend a four-year university or college, so she became a certified nursing assistant.

However, her severe scoliosis, arthritis and a major depressive disorder limit her ability to maintain employment – which was a contributing factor in her struggle with homelessness.

So, Teri finds joy in different ways. She loves science fiction and adores reading romance novels. She’s also a polyglot – fluent in Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL), and adept in conversational French, German, Japanese and Russian.

Teri’s science fiction fondness was shared by her soulmate of nine years, Robert, who she met at Father Joe’s Villages, a homeless shelter in San Diego. She said Robert was her true love and the years they spent together were the best of her life. Her fondest memories include visiting Comic-Con with Robert to see costumed attendees, watching their favorite sci-fi movies (which include “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and “Dune”) and making chicken quesadillas together.

After his death, she became homeless again for 16 months.

But then Teri heard about Valley Senior Village in Escondido and was urged to apply by her case worker and the Alpha Project, a nonprofit that provides various services and programs to homeless people.

Teri calls her new space “heaven” for its privacy and comfort. Her luck continues to swell – she was just approved for healthcare through Medicaid and she’ll be adopting two kittens to fill her home with more joy.

Valley Senior Village is just a block from her new doctor, minutes from a farmer’s market, near the center of the downtown area and walking distance from Grape Day Park, Teri said.

Teri is so thankful to the Valley Senior Village community that she wants to give back in the best way she knows how: by spreading her love of language. She has already told her community’s management team that she is more than willing to give ASL lessons to other residents.

“I will always be a Wisconsinite – it will always be my first home,” Teri said. “But Valley Senior Village is indescribable. This apartment means I can call some new place home. I am so happy here. I can go into the community room and mingle with other residents and just enjoy my life.”