San Bernardino, Calif. – Omeika Candelaria lived at the Waterman Gardens public housing project for so long, she can’t remember how exactly it happened.
“I’d applied for public housing, and I think I got a letter in the mail that I was approved. But I didn’t know anything about Waterman Gardens or why I wound up here,” she said.
It wouldn’t have been her first choice, but it was affordable – and she could raise her four children despite her limited income.
“Living in Waterman Gardens, it was a challenge. We had our ups and downs. It didn’t matter if it was day or night, there was always some kind of trouble,” Candelaria said, quickly qualifying her statement: “It wasn’t residents; it was always someone from the outside bringing the trouble inside.”
After 14 years, Candelaria moved into the Olive Meadow community, part of the Arrowhead Grove Neighborhood Revitalization.
“It is so much nicer,” she said. “I can actually say that I feel safe now. My kids are so much happier – just having two bathrooms instead of one. And there’s just such a good vibe.”
A good vibe that has extended into her work life, with new jobs for herself – and her daughter. While the added income means a rent increase – from $206 to $868 per month – Candelaria said it is worth it.
“It just seems that once we moved in, good things started to happen,” she said. “I’m good with that.”