“I'm 63 years old. I'm a mother of one, a grandmother of four, and a great-grandmother of six. I am a single widower and I'm a recovering addict. I lived a very horrific life for 25 years of addiction. I've been clean now for eight. I know what it means to not have anything of your own. Your clothes are in a sack and you're wondering how you're going to eat that day. So to have something that belongs to me, it's a very – I don't want to say pride – but it gives a sense of worth. You feel devalued when you feel you don't belong. […]
I decorated my apartment – a brand new, never lived in apartment. Nobody has ever taken a bath in the bathtub or anything like that! You talking about exciting! Having my own dishwasher, washer and dryer, right close to hand. It was so thrilling. You know, it's new and it's mine so decorating it […] was so much fun.
And I like it because they keep up the premises. I love the landscape. I love that we went to a fire safety program with the fire department. One of the things that really made me proud was one of the firemen saying how well built these units are. That they have really good material and really good layout for fire safety and everything. We have everything at our convenience.
I receive Social Security Disability. And for my rent [before living here] I was paying $450 a month out of $733. So to come here and to have that extra money, I can get life insurance, rental insurance, and I can save some money to take my children somewhere, or even put up for their education. Just something to say “Listen, I want you to go to college. And I've saved up 500 dollars to say, 'Get an education. Go to school.'” And for a great grandmother who – I just have a semester of college, you know – and with my life story and to come out of it, to be where I am today and to have the influence on my family... If you save one life, it's not just one life you're saving. People are connected. It's just not me that's being helped here. It's my family, my daughter, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren. Because they're connected to me."
Geraldine, Hattiesburg, MS
Interviewed and photographed on assignment for Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, May 2016