Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A room with a view: Grandmother of five moves into new apartment she can afford

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Yesterday morning during a photoshoot for our upcoming annual report at Catholic Charities’ The Summit at St. Martin’s, I had the pleasure of meeting Laverne Cuthbertson, one of the building’s newest residents.  I watched as Laverne used her new set of keys to open the door to her very own apartment, and shared the joy of the moment with her as she screamed at the top of her lungs and burst into tears, surveying her new view of the District skyline. Laverne now occupies one of the 50 units Catholic Charities reserves for District residents earning 30 percent or less median area income.  The second-floor unit provides the perfect vantage point for watching fireworks on the Fourth of July.

However, she’s most excited about having five special guests visit and stay the night—her grandchildren.

“They’re going be over here Saturday night,” she said excitedly. “I really have a place that’s mine.  Now I don’t have to explain to my grandbabies why they can’t stay over with me.” Until she moved to The Summit, she had lived at a local transitional housing shelter where guests could not stay.

A retired federal employee, Laverne has been living at the shelter for the past two and a half years, ever since bad knees and a limp forced her into early retirement.  Without a stable cash flow, Laverne realized that disability payments couldn’t provide enough income for her to pay her own rent. When she saw that The Summit was holding 50 brand new apartments for low-income adults, she decided to apply.

That was two weeks ago.  She received her official acceptance letter in the mail last Wednesday.

The Summit boasts impressive amenities for families and youngsters: a rooftop playground, an expansive, grassy courtyard and free wifi café (for the digitally savvy with laptops or smartphones) mean there will be no shortage of activities for Laverne and her five grandchildren.

“God has been good to me,” she said finally, after admiring the new apartment, especially impressed with the vista outside.

That’s what I call a true miracle.  Now, 178 families and individuals just like Laverne have the opportunity to live in clean, secure housing that is affordable.  While these families may have experienced difficulties finding a good place to live in the past, they can now be proud to have a place they can call their own.

Thanks Laverne, and God Bless!

Photo caption: A joyful Laverne poses with her cousin, Alveria Ford (left), on The Summit's rooftop patio.

Read "The Miracle at the Summit," The Open Door blog's recap of The Summit's October grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony.