In October of 2016, Martina (once a teen parent needing help) shared her story at a workshop CRIHI hosted in the Riverbend/Terwillegar community.
“Thank you to [CRIHI] for inviting me to share some of my personal experiences and thoughts related to safe and affordable housing. I hope I can give voice to the thousands of Edmontonians who seek safe and affordable housing.”
My name is Martina Crory. I am 23 years old, a mother to my adorable 3-year-old son Jude, a third-year university student at MacEwan, and I was recently accepted into the honours program in political science.
I grew up living with my mom. She had few marketable skills and as a result we moved from Halifax to Edmonton hoping for more opportunities. Unfortunately, those hopes never came to be. We continued to live in poverty with little income and limited housing options. We moved around a lot and it never really felt like I had a home. As a young person growing up, it was chaotic and disruptive. Every time I moved I would have to leave some things behind or things would get lost moving. It was not a very stable way for a teenager to grow up.
When you don’t have stable housing, your life is not stable. At nineteen years, old I found myself pregnant; a single parent. If things were tough, I knew they were going to be tougher. I reached out to the Terra Centre for teen parents, and for the past three years they have been by my side providing support in so many ways.
My son Jude and I ended up living in a walk up off 107 Ave. My laundry would get stolen, there was always the smell of pot in the building. It was noisy, and there was nowhere for kids to play outside. This is not what I wanted for Jude. I knew the risks of these environments. I looked around for a better safe place for us to live, but the rents were beyond my reach.
Although that was a challenge, what seemed even more challenging in finding decent safe and affordable housing were the assumptions and judgements that I faced as a young single parent. Landlords and the general public did not see me as a young parent with potential and capabilities; they saw me as a reckless, irresponsible and inadequate mom; nothing further than the truth.
It was a difficult time. I applied for subsidized housing with Capital Region Housing, but with a two-year wait list I felt so defeated. Terra had just started a new housing partnership with Brentwood Family Housing Society and I was accepted.
When I first went to see what was to be my new home, I was speechless. It was in a quiet community with other families. It had playgrounds, and my townhouse had a washer and dryer. This was like a dream come true for me. When I moved in, it was the first time I could remember that it felt like it was home. Because of the subsidy, Brentwood offers, it was affordable, based on my student income. I started to feel like there was hope. I started to believe I could pursue my dreams of graduating from University. For the past two years, I have been living in safe and affordable housing. Because of that, I have been able to make great gains in reaching my goals.
I am proud of my academic accomplishments, of raising a well-adjusted, happy and healthy child. I feel like I am part of the community and I am getting ahead. I am even the proud owner of a ‘mom car.’ I can afford it because of subsidized rent. It may not look pretty, but if I need to take Jude to the hospital at 2:00am I can do that. I can drive him to his skating lessons. I can spend more quality time with him; saving more than two hours a day from riding the bus; time I can spend with him.
Affordable housing gives me security and options. I don’t have to choose between rent and good food for Jude. We never owned a home growing up, or had much stable housing. I think life would have been much different if we had. I dream of owning my own home one day, and I know pursuing my educational goals will help me to achieve that. Having affordable housing today is helping me to reach that goal. I know that subsidized housing will not always be necessary; but I am grateful that I have been able to benefit from it.
As you spend time today listing about affordable housing and the people who need this support, please consider the following:
- People who need affordable housing have goals; I don’t think most want to have a subsidy.
- We want to give our kids a home and provide them with stability and opportunity.
- If you have children, what we want for our children is no different than what you want for your children.
- We want to give back, not just take; affordable housing can help make that happen.
- We need more people to care about our community; what kind of community are we cultivating for our children and what we can teach our children about inclusion.
Thank you for taking the time for this discussion today and caring about our community.