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Kevin Finally Has a Safe Place to Call Home






Kevin Finally Has a Safe Place to Call Home

Resident at Sequoia Commons

Posted on February 27, 2020


Resident at Sequoia Commons

Kevin Duvall moved into his new Sequoia Commons apartment only a couple of months ago and already he says that his entire life has changed. To understand the enormity of this change, we must first dive into what makes Kevin so special.

 

Kevin was born and raised in Visalia.  As a young child, he worked in the fields, picking and harvesting fruit. It was a family affair, “All my family, my grandpa, grandma, everybody worked in the fields at one point,” reminisced Kevin. “I remember we would be out there hanging on the arms of tractors and pulling the bins down the middle of the rows for the grapes and the oranges.” He was a normal, happy kid who also fondly remembers attending Mt. Whitney High School.

 

Many years later, he would find himself caring for his dying mother. Kevin’s mother eventually passed, leaving him alone and without a home. “My mother lived in that home for 34 years, but because we had a reverse mortgage, once she passed, the bank took the home. I walked away with a backpack, two photo albums and my mom’s ashes.”

 

Kevin remained homeless for ten years. He did his best finding odd jobs, but none of them were enough to secure an apartment. Once he finally had enough for an apartment, he was hit with “you don’t have enough renter’s credit.” It was never enough.

 

He worked in the fields to make ends meet but did not have a place to come home to. In an unfortunate turn of events, one day while riding his bike to the grocery store, two intoxicated men hit him over the head with a hammer and took his bike. He was left on the side of the road having a seizure from the trauma until the police and ambulance showed up. Kevin was taken to the hospital where he stayed for three weeks. It was there that doctors informed him that he had a tumor on the back of his head.  “If I hadn’t been hit over the head, I wouldn’t have found out about my tumor,” said Kevin. He’s been disabled since and has been in and out of medical facilities taking care of his health issues.

 

Kevin reached out to the Kings and Tulare Homeless Alliance, a coalition that coordinates and leverages policy and resources that empower community partners to address homelessness in Kings and Tulare Counties.   Once connected, Kevin learn about the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP), the Mainstream Voucher Program and CSET’s Continuum of Care program, which helps develop and provide housing and related supportive services for people moving from homelessness to independent and supportive living. With the help of the Homeless Alliance and partners like CSET, Kevin had the opportunity to apply to Sequoia Commons, Self-Help Enterprises’ new affordable rental community located in Goshen.

 

“Kevin is a very nice guy. He tried to connect with as many resources as possible, said Leticia Hinojosa, the Coordinated Entry Manager at the Kings and Tulare Homeless Alliance. “Even during some really stressful and frustrating times, he never gave up. His end goal was housing and happy that he finally got housed.”

 

Leticia mentioned that “it’s a really big challenge” to get people experiencing homelessness off the streets. Even when they have vouchers, there are so many layers of requirements that often limit options.

 

Sequoia Commons is a 66-unit multifamily housing development that include one, two and three-bedroom units and features an outdoor common area with playground, barbecue pit, picnic tables, basketball court and a 3,072 square feet community room equipped with a kitchen, bathrooms, laundry facility, computer lab and separate management office. Monthly net rents, ranging from $331 to $766, are determined based on unit size and resident incomes. These below-market monthly rents mean that Self-Help Enterprises is providing an affordable housing opportunity to local residents like Kevin.

 

“You don’t know what you have until it’s gone and when you do get it back in this magnitude of greatness, where everything is so beautiful and clean,” smiled Kevin.  “It’s a life-changer. I have my own place now. I have a place to cook my food, take a shower to get ready for my doctors appointments.”

 

Kevin says it’s the little things that really matter like “being able to turn a doorknob or shut the door for some privacy when showering.”

 

Today, Kevin continues to ride his bike to and from town, making his health a priority and attending all of his medical appointments. Currently, he is waiting to get surgery to have his brain tumor removed. In the meantime, he rests easier knowing he has a clean and safe place to call home.