After the devastating death of her brother, Ashley desperately needed a new beginning. So, in 2021, the 25-year-old single mom moved from California to Georgia to create a better life for herself and her three small children.

But the new start she had envisioned wasn’t to be.

So, after about a year, she returned to California to be close to her mother and grandmother.

But things went from bad to worse.

Her mother and grandmother offered to let the young family stay at their house, but Ashley knew that her children would disrupt their lives and did not want to impose on their generosity. She assumed she could quickly find a home – as she always had in the past.

So, she took her family to a shelter while she looked for housing.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months.

“I didn’t realize how long it would take to get housing,” Ashley said. “Being in the shelter, we shared living spaces with other families. I learned a lot about how people lived, and it was not always good. A lot of people aren’t mentally stable or don’t have boundaries so being in a place like that is scary.”

Ashley was already juggling multiple responsibilities: She was a full-time nursing student, primary caregiver for two of her children who have sickle cell anemia, held part-time jobs and was newly pregnant.

As the months passed, the lack of privacy and worries about other residents began to wear on the family.

“I did my best to keep us out during the day because that was the only way we could deal with the stress,” Ashley said. “My kids went to after-school programs, and I was also continuing my education, so we just needed to be there to sleep.”

Eventually, she made the hard decision to split her family – in February 2023 she sent her two oldest children, boys ages 4 and 8, to live with her grandmother. Her daughter, age 2, stayed with her as did the newborn when she arrived December 2023.

“Our living situation was really difficult,” she said. “We have always been together, but my kids hated being at the shelter – separating us felt like my only choice.”

Even then, she found herself struggling with school, forced to study in her car or stay after school for hours to focus in the only quiet places she could find.

At the end of 2023, Ashley joined a Facebook group dedicated to publishing information about affordable housing communities. It was there that she found Vista de La Sierra, National CORE’s new community in Riverside, California.

Ashley said the Vista de La Sierra property management team’s compassion for her was palpable, and they quickly found a home for her.

“The team went out of their way to help me get my paperwork in order,” Ashley said. “They made this process easier for my family.”

She moved in February 2024, reuniting her family.

“This apartment gives me and my family a sense of relief,” she said. “We have our own place now and I can finally focus on getting my degree. I don’t have to worry about people taking my things or that someone will be in my space. It’s a great feeling to say that this is mine.”

Securing housing was just the first step for Ashley – she continues to work toward becoming a licensed vocational nurse with plans of becoming a registered nurse.

“I am not one to give up,” she said. “I do everything for my family, so I don’t plan on stopping here. This is only the beginning for us.”