Many of you may already know (or know of) my friend Jacque Balbas-Ruddy. I first got to know her when I wrote about her in September. She had recently been diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer and as the courageous, vibrant fighter told me then, “In a way, getting breast cancer the first time was one of the most amazing things that ever happened to me,” she said as we drove. “Without it, I’d never have met the most incredible people or would be in a position to help others like this.”
Well now, after bravely (and successfully) battling the disease once again, she is up against another obstacle. This one, we can all help with simply by lending our collective voices.
She sent this out yesterday to a number of us:
My dear friends, we are reaching out for help. The boys and I are facing homelessness at the end of September. Would you please consider writing a letter to our property owner on our behalf?
We currently live in an apartment building owned by Orange County Community Housing Corporation (OCCHC) at 313 11th Street, Huntington Beach. OCCHC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is as follows:
“OCCHC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to transition extremely low income families to greater self-sufficiency by assisting with housing and education. Its founding in 1977 was based on the principle that our low-wage families deserve safe housing and safe neighborhoods so that their children would have the same education benefits as those from more affluent neighborhoods”. (Taken from OCCHC website: July 27, 2016)
During my undergraduate studies at UC Irvine, Caden (13), Liam (7), and I became residents at the OCCHC property in November 2013. I have concluded my UCI program and will begin the final leg of education for my career in the Master of Social Work program at USC, at the Orange County Campus. Kathy Nutter, the Leasing Director at OCCHC and the rest of the managing staff have known since we became residents in their building, that my educational program would need to include a Masters Degree in order for me to become gainfully employed. (Kathy Nutter herself is a former client who lived in OCCHC housing during her undergraduate and graduate programs.)
On their website, OCCHC describes the success of their program and states their residents spend an average of seven years in their housing:
“OCCHC offers an impressive track record of performance. All of our projects are 100 percent occupied at completion, they are finished on schedule and within budget, and our residents remain over seven years on average. Rent collection problems are a rarity and tenant deposits are usually returned when families move on to ownership or to other locations”. (Taken from OCCHC website July 27, 2016).
In May 2016, my family received a 90 Notice to Terminate (eviction) from OCCHC by August 31. I have been a resident for less than three years. The attached letter was written in response, hoping that the Notice was an oversight. Ms. Nutter is now giving me until September 30 to vacate. OCCHC is claiming that because I have earned my BA and will be ending my client-relationship with another organization, Project Self Sufficiency (PSS), they were also ending my tenancy. However, when we moved into our home, I was specifically advised by Ms. Nutter, that when my PSS relationship ended (upon award of BA degree), that I could remain under the OCCHC residency program. She explained that we could remain in our home for at least four years, and that OCCHC would work with me through completion of my master degree and transition into new housing.
I am in good standing as a tenant. My rent is, and has always been, current. During my 2.5 years of tenancy, there have been no complaints against me. I am a good tenant and neighbor.
With this email, I am asking that my friends, community leaders, business professionals, professors, and those who are inclined to lend a hand, please write a letter to OCCHC, on my behalf, asking them to keep Caden, Liam, and me in our home until the completion of my graduate program.
We have nowhere to go and will be homeless, should OCCHC insist we move in September. The boys and I request you to write this letter based on OCCHC’s statement on their website that residents stay an average of seven years, that I was lead to believe I would be able to live here through my educational program, and that I have been an upstanding tenant. If you chose to write a letter, I ask that you present what you know about our family, me as a parent, breast cancer survivor, student, community leader, volunteer, advocate, and future licensed clinical social worker. I am working toward a degree in a helping field so that I can provide financially for our family and be of service to others.
I humbly thank you for your assistance in this regard.
Please send your letters to:
Allen Baldwin, President/Operations
Nora Mendez, Executive Director
Kathy Nutter, Leasing Director
Their email addresses are:
Kathy@occhc.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Please send a copy to me:
Jacqueline Ruddy – firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m writing my letters this morning. If you have a moment to write in support of this amazing woman, she’d really appreciate it.
Email Sent! Please keep us posted! I am more than happy to keep writing!