My name is Tiffany Victoria Nemo and I am from Southern California. I was born in Beverly Hills and grew up in a middle-class family with both of my parents. In 2000, my father bought a house for his family and I moved to North Fontana. My parents had been together for 30 years until he passed away in 2012, and then my life changed. I graduated from college in 2016 with two AS degrees in Fire Prevention and Fire Technology and worked for a Fire Department for two years. After being a victim of domestic violence, in 2017, I got full custody of my son, Lawrence, and I came to Northern California to escape. My son’s father was physically and mentally abusive towards me. I have a big scar on my arm because I almost died due to domestic violence. I had to get away – I never thought I would be in this situation, but I was in this situation. We did not have a place to go; we were sleeping in my car and going from shelter to shelter in Oakland and in Marin County.
In August 2017 Gilead House provided me and my son with transitional housing. I was crying because I asked God to find me a place to put over my son’s head, and he did. I came to Gilead House with a bad credit score of 540, and I had over $30,000 in debt. I had a car that always needed mechanical work, and I had no job. I came to Northern California with nothing and I was on CalWORKs to get by. St. Vincent de Paul, Wednesday’ s Gift, and North Marin Community Services help paid for my rent and Christmas, since I didn’t have a job, which helped me and my son so much. Ritter Center helped get my car fixed at that time when I had no money. These resources helped me out so much when I did not have anything. After some time, I finally got a job, being a Fire Inspector for a private company called Bay Alarm Company. I was so happy to be working again.
I went to Community Action Marin to help me get my credit score up and get my debt back on track. Community Action Marin helped me look and search for housing. I found a place called Burbank Housing and they were going to build affordable town homes for people like me. They also have apartments as well, so I applied for both. I had been looking for a place to call home, but no one would give me an opportunity. Then, Burbank Housing let me know that I didn’t qualify due to not making enough money and my low credit score, but I would be on the backup list. A nice woman there encouraged me to keep working on it, and said, “you never know” and so, I kept working on it. Two years later, my credit score was up to 600, I had almost paid off my debt, and then I lost my job. I asked myself, “Why me, Lord?” I felt that I can’t win. At this point, I was getting frustrated. I was living with other women in the house and I was about to just give up.
In August 2019, life was looking up a bit for me. I got a full-time job working for Center for Domestic Peace. I was so happy: my son was doing well in school, and therapy was helping me and my son. Gilead House moved us to one of their one-bedroom apartments. I was so happy that we had our own space. I knew that God and my father was watching over us.
Three years after coming to Gilead House and starting my work with Community Action Marin, my time was almost done at Gilead House and I knew I had to find a place to live quickly. Community Action Marin surprised me with a $1,500 check because my credit score was then at 700, I had paid off all my debt, and it was off my credit report. I could finally get a place on my own, and I was not on CalWORKs anymore. I also earned a promotion from my job and became a social worker. My life was getting better.
In November 2019, I was accepted to a one-bedroom apartment in Fairfax and you should have seen my son’s face of joy! It brought tears to my eyes. Adopt-a-Family of Marin and St. Vincent de Paul’s Society helped me with my deposit as well as first and second month’s rent. I let my son Lawrence have the bedroom, and I just sleep on an air mattress in the living room (because I am a cool mother). Life was looking very good for us, and then COVID-19 hit. My son Lawrence has asthma and I was so scared. Luckily, we were hanging in there and we are both vaccinated with the Pfizer shot now. As the world was getting better, I got a phone call that changed our lives forever.
On March 2021, Burbank Housing called me and ask me if I am still interested in a brand new town home at Lantana Home in Santa Rosa, where I was still on the back-up list. I told them yes. Due to COVID-19, eight people dropped out, which allowed us to get one of those homes. I went to pick out a home and I picked lot 47. One month later, I was approved that I will be a homeowner and I got lot 47, the one I picked. We did a walk-through and I was crying for joy-that home was for me and my son Lawrence. In August 2021, I will be a homeowner with a home built from the ground up. It will have three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, two floors, a one-car garage, and cute front and backyards.
God and my father have been watching over me. At the end of August, I will get my key and Burbank Housing will have a ceremony. I can’t wait to move in and show my son Lawrence the house for the first time and I can’t wait to see his face and joy.
From having everything to being homeless to becoming a homeowner- it’s all a dream come true. I have been through so much and I have worked very hard to get to where I am. All I needed was a little help from organizations that care and want to help me, and they did. I am beyond thankful and truly blessed.