Mother of Two and Employee of CSPNJ Shares How Opportunity Truly Starts at Home Story with Congressman LoBiondo
On July 25, 2018, Heather Simms shared her moving story of how opportunity truly starts at home with the 350 attendees at the 2018 Congressional Reception. She lives in Egg Harbor City, NJ and is a constituent of Representative Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-02). Unfortunately, this year, LoBiondo was unable to attend the Congressional Reception, but his housing policy staff represented him at the event. If Congressman LoBiondo is your representative, make sure you share Heather’s story below with him and his staff.
Heather has two children and currently works for Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey (CSPNJ), the same organization that helped her apply for her housing voucher years ago.
Unfortunately, years ago, Heather’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder led to her being evicted from her home. Following her eviction, she found very limited available housing assistance because she was a single mother with two children. When she would try to seek housing on her own, she was denied housing due to renter blacklisting.
In 2001, Heather finally connected with CSPNJ where she eventually received her first housing voucher. Heather began to transform her life as opportunity started for her with a place to call home. This helped her to get back to what it was prior to her diagnosis.
She describes, “CSPNJ led me to a Shelter Care Plus Voucher which really gave me the opportunity to access mental health treatment and be integrated into a community which provided me with a sense of belonging.”
Eventually, with a place to call home, Heather was able to give up her voucher and finance her housing on her own.
Heather declares, “After this, I was able to give up my housing voucher and the work with others to link them with other housing opportunities where they can then start their path to recovery.”
Now, Heather helps others who have struggled like her. Instead of feeling ashamed about her past, she now finds dignity through her work.
Heather explains, “Opportunity truly starts at home and I am living experience of that.”
“And now not only have I been able to give myself that opportunity, (but to) my children, my other family members.”
Monarch Housing Associates and its partners thanks Heather for speaking and also thank the staff of Representative LoBiondo for attending the Congressional Reception.
Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, Inc. (CSPNJ) is a peer led not-for-profit organization. CSPNJ provides flexible community-based services that promote responsibility, recovery and wellness through the provision of community wellness centers, supportive and respite housing, human rights advocacy, and educational and innovative programs.