I’asia lived on the streets at 16 years old after her mother died from addiction and father passed away from to AIDS. Even though she had a difficult childhood, she knew she could change her life if she worked hard.
I’asia worked at Loews to provide for her family but put in so many hours that she never saw her children. She became depressed. I’asia’s two sons have severe asthma and were hospitalized on multiple occasions which caused I’asia to miss work. Due to the demands of her young family, I’asia tried to get demoted to a less time demanding position, but was ultimately fired from her job, leaving her unemployed. Her family soon faced eviction and lived in a minivan.
I’asia said, “People were so convinced maybe it’s something you did. Maybe you did things wrong. I began to ask myself, did I?” Regardless of whether or not I’asia was responsible for her situation, she certainly deserved a second chance.
After moving into transitional housing, I’asia finally found an apartment in Trenton. She received subsidized housing through the Bridge of Hope program. I’asia’s rent for this home was subsidized for a year and now she fully pays her rent herself.
She concluded her comments by asking, “Housing creates opportunity, right?”
Following, I’asia, U.S. Senator Menendez (NJ) spoke about the affordable housing crisis in New Jersey. He thanked I’asia for sharing her story and contributing to the fight in Washington.
Menendez stated, “Whether you are a resident or an advocate, an organizer or an affordable housing provider, it is so important to make your voices heard.”
Menendez implored his listeners, “We cannot lose sight of what we are fighting for- an affordable place for every New Jersey resident to call home.”
Menendez incorporated the stories of other New Jersey impact speakers Nichole Allen and Michael Folger into his remarks, demonstrating his awareness of the needs of his constituents.
He powerfully stated, “I believe in the most prosperous nation on the face of the earth, no American should have to choose between paying their rent, taking their kid to school or paying for their prescription drugs.”