JB Brown Fund Scholarships Ignite Hope!

When it comes to awarding JB Brown college scholarships, one USA Properties Fund community shines like a beacon on a hill, brighter than any other.

In the heart of San Jose, the Mayfair Apartments are home to an extremely diverse population; many are recent immigrants and are still struggling to learn English. However, this doesn’t stop Jasmine Carter, Mayfair’s Property Manager, from promoting the JB Brown College Scholarship Program and encouraging her residents to apply.

Jasmine posts flyers on community boards, puts one on every door, and even hosts a JB Brown Scholarship Program informational meeting to explain the program, the requirements, and how to fill out the application. She makes herself available to answer any questions they have and helps each applicant when they need documents copied or faxed.

At first it was a slow start to spread the word among the resident youth and for the youth to believe that going to college is attainable. Most have watched their parents work long hours in low wage jobs… most had no one in their family or circle of friends who would dream about something as big as earning a college degree, but eventually Jasmine’s efforts paid off. After the oldest in a family of five children applied and was awarded their first scholarship, the next sibling was excited to do the same. Today there are four siblings from this one family all going to San Jose State University and one will be graduating soon!

Incredibly, for the Spring 2017 semester there are eight Mayfair residents attending college on a JB Brown Scholarship!

Currently Hien, Anh, Luong, and Van Pham are all at San Jose State; four other individuals from different Mayfair families are now attending college throughout Northern California. Karla Mondragon is at UC Santa Cruz in her second year; Nguyen Tran is attending at Sacramento State University; and Alvaro Gutierrez and Victoria Rico have joined the Pham family at San Jose State.

Jasmine has witnessed a change come over Mayfair since so many families have a son or daughter in college. In her engagement with residents she sees more of a comfortable confidence; more residents are speaking English, more are being responsible and paying their rent on time.

Jasmine feels personal satisfaction from knowing she has played a role in the future success of her residents, “It makes me feel like we do WAY more than provide an apartment to families. We are helping these individuals create a better life for themselves – giving them an opportunity they might not have had otherwise, or that they would have struggled more to achieve. No one said we HAD to offer college scholarships to residents. We could simply be a property management company that moves people in, takes their rent, and fixes their work orders. But we’re NOT! We stand out from others, we CARE! In a money hungry world – where everything revolves around “what am I getting out of this” – we only want to see how others are benefiting and what they’re going to do to better themselves. We’re not asking for anything in return. WHO DOES THAT?! That’s why it’s so important to me, because it proves that we can stand out for the greater good.”

LifeSTEPS Helps Older Adults Age-in-Place


Editor’s Note: Nearly 40% of the communities LifeSTEPS serves provide housing for older adults. As such, we have a strong commitment in helping older adults “age in place”. Most live on a fixed income. Some, because they may receive a small pension or have a modest retirement account, make too much to qualify for certain benefits, but don’t make enough to afford out-of-pocket expenses. They are “trapped in the gap” and, because of this, their independence is threatened. LifeSTEPS is focused on helping these individuals – along with all other older adults we serve – to remain in their homes and their communities.

In today’s challenging economy many people of modest means need help paying bills, particularly medical bills. This is especially true for older adults.

Often older adults have to choose between going to the doctor or putting foodRebecca on the table.  If an older adult makes a little too much each month to qualify for certain Medi-Cal benefits, but not enough to afford out of pocket expenses, they are “trapped in the gap”. Because they cannot afford certain expenses – like in home health services or other medical expenses – they often will move into a skilled nursing facility prematurely. When this happens, they leave their community (and independence) behind.

Rebecca is an active resident in her affordable community and enjoys volunteering at various community events. She attends LifeSTEPS educational classes, with a particular interest in anything healthcare related. When she was faced with knee surgery, it was suggested that she purchase some adaptive medical equipment that would help her during her recovery.

Rebecca knew the equipment would be immensely helpful but she could not afford it – and it wasn’t fully covered through Med-iCal. About the same time she also started having dental pain and learned that she had an infection in her mouth. She was faced with yet another expense beyond her means.

The community manager referred Rebecca to LifeSTEPS for financial help. Through the LifeSTEPS Client Assistance Program (Craig’s Fund), which is also supported by the JB Brown Fund (USA Properties), Rebecca received the help she needed to purchase the medical equipment and have her dental treatment. The provision of this equipment made Rebecca’s recovery much more comfortable and the dental treatment eradicated the painful infection.

Rebecca did not have to dip into her rent or grocery money to cover these expenses. She was able to get her needs met without jeopardizing her economic stability. She had a LifeSTEPS social worker there to help her throughout, providing technical expertise and emotional support.

This is a great example of how residents are experiencing better physical and financial health through LifeSTEPS and the JB Brown Fund.


Formerly Homeless, Rosalinda Has Found Peace at Hollenbeck Terrace

Editor’s Note: LifeSTEPS’ core purpose is to keep people in housing. However, through our relationship with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, we are also involved in helping the homeless become housed. Following is Rosalinda’s story, depicting how this partnership helped to change her life.

In 2005 Rosalinda was living a good life. A job developer for Goodwill Industries in Yuma, AZ, Rosalinda found fulfillment in her job and enjoyed a safe and secure home. However, in 2010 she moved back to the Los Angeles area to help her daughter who was having a baby.

From there her life would be turned upside-down. Her relationship with her daughter began to deteriorate. In 2011 Rosalinda had a heart attack, and in 2012 shRosalindae was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.  Because of her health conditions she was unable to hold down a job for any length of time. She soon found herself homeless.

For five long years Rosalinda moved back and forth between her brother and her son’s homes, though she often slept in her car or in the park. Thankfully she had accessed health services through the County of Los Angeles. During the fall of 2015 a caseworker from the County Hospital referred her to the Housing for Health Program. Rosalinda was soon in contact with LifeSTEPS and Brilliant Corners, and by October had moved into her new apartment home at Hollenbeck Terrace.

Formerly known as Linda Vista Hospital, Amcal Housing transformed the abandoned facility into an affordable community for older adults. As a tax-credit community, a consistent level of social services is provided to residents through LifeSTEPS. In addition, the community is also a part of the Los Angeles County Housing for Health Program, through which older homeless adults with health concerns, like Rosalinda, are moved from shelters (or their cars) into safe, affordable housing. As needed, they also have access to health services, some of which are delivered on-site. Rosalinda reports that she receives nursing visits and physical therapy on a weekly basis.

For Rosalinda having a home of her own has been a true blessing. Furthermore, she says that it’s her entire community that is helping her to feel more alive.  “We look out for one another. We encourage shut-ins to join us in the different activities here.” For example, Rosalinda is active in social activities on-site, attends education classes, and even does a Zumba class (using her walker)!
“This is a wonderful place to call home,” she says. “It’s been good for my health. Everyone is at peace. I don’t have to worry anymore.”


From Homeless to Housed: A Success Story

When Linda* came to California six years ago, becoming homeless wasn’t part of her plan.

LifeSTEPSShe was a nurse in Texas. However, when she relocated to California her license wasn’t valid in this state. To land a nursing job here would cost $8-10,000 and two years of additional schooling. Knowing she had to work, Linda was trained by Los Angeles County in mental health services and working with those who had Alzheimer’s Disease. For six years she worked as a caregiver and didn’t stop until December 12, 2013.

That’s the day her life changed in ways she could never have imagined.

She took a horrible fall down a flight of stairs, sustaining numerous severe injuries. Unable to work, she no longer had an income sufficient to pay rent. She was eventually evicted from her apartment. Linda was now homeless and hopeless.

What she didn’t know is that there was a new effort being formed through the Housing for Health program between Los Angeles Department of Health Services, AMCAL, FPI Management, Brilliant Corners (the nonprofit contracted to coordinate the HFH program), and LifeSTEPS. Through this partnership Linda was identified as a good candidate – and LifeSTEPS social worker, LaKisha Collman, made outreach to her.

LaKisha helped her complete an application to the Housing for Health program (HFH). The HFH program strives to end homelessness in Los Angeles County, while reducing the inappropriate use of expensive health care resources and improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations. Administered by Los Angeles County, the program provides permanent supportive housing and specialized care to homeless people with complex physical and behavioral health conditions. “Linda was the perfect candidate for this program. It was evident that her health was suffering so we worked as quickly as possible to get her into the program.” LaKisha said.

“I was sleeping in my car.” Linda said. She parked in hospital parking lots and other places where she would feel safe. Still recovering from the severity of her injuries, her sleeping arrangement made her condition worse. “I have seven degenerated bones in my back and sleeping in my car has made it worse. I’m sometimes in so much pain I can’t sleep.”

Not long after preparing her application, LaKisha gave Linda some good news: she had been referred to Broadway Villas – an AMCAL affordable housing complex that is a part of the HFH program. Linda, understandably, was quite excited. “I went to see the property and it was beautiful. I knew I was going to be blessed. It was like a dream!”

“There are a lot of heroes in this program,” says Beth Southorn, Executive Director for LifeSTEPS. “The housing part of this program can be complex. With AMCAL agreeing to set aside a number of rent-controlled units at Broadway Villas that fit the program guidelines, they’ve made the transition from homelessness to being housed much easier.” She also cites that all of the partners have done amazing work to make dreams like Linda’s come true.

“What I also find extraordinary is that people like Linda, who have experienced great difficulties, are definitely up to the challenge of making significant positive changes in their lives. They just need a little help.” Southorn says.

LifeSTEPS has housed total of 16 people at Broadway Villas since early 2015. Each unit is fully furnished, and residents will receive ongoing social service support from LifeSTEPS to help make their transition as successful as possible. Linda was one of eight people who moved into Broadway Villas on January 28, 2015. LifeSTEPS has helped a total of 40 people transition into permanent homes through the HFH program at two AMCAL communities.

Overcome with emotion, Linda exclaimed, “Do you know where I was sleeping on the 15th of this month? Outside on the street in front of this building! I’ve been waiting for this day for so long. LaKisha is one of God’s angels and I feel so blessed.”

*Please note:  Some resident names have been changed.