voices of acadia

Veronica Araujo

This story is part of a collection of stories under the series Voices of Acadia. Each story highlights the residents in one of Acadia’s units and how they came to call it home. To read more stories in this series, click here.

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“The building we used to live in went up for sale with all the tenants included. The new buyer increased our rent by about $300 a month. Then the building switched owners again and the same thing happened. It became too expensive to live there. One of our neighbors approached us trying to unite all the tenants to go to court, but I don’t like doing things like that so we decided it would be best to move, especially because we were already having some other problems living there.” 

“We began looking for new places, but found it was going to be too expensive to move once we factored in security deposits and having to pay months of rent up front - one landlord wanted to charge us four months of rent up front. We didn’t know what we were going to do. We had never heard of affordable housing until our son’s therapist told us about it. I knew about TND – I had been there to get help with SNAP benefits or a class I was looking for – but I didn’t know Winn was across the parking lot and that I could apply for housing there. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was putting pieces in our puzzle together because at Winn they explained everything I needed to know about subsidized housing, the waitlist, etc. and they helped me apply.” 

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“When we applied for Acadia I was a little discouraged because there were so many people applying. There was a big lottery raffle event that happened at the elementary school, but I didn’t go because I didn’t think I was going to get it. Plus, if I got it, they would send me something in the mail letting me know I did.”  

“My husband opened the envelope that told us we won the lottery and I called to set up our pre-qualification meeting. We were very nervous to go to the meeting. During the time we were waiting to find out if we qualified, we would park outside of Acadia and look at it and wonder if it was really going to be ours. When we found out we did qualify, we were told the setup of how many bedrooms would be in our unit, but we never actually saw the unit until we moved in. It felt a little bit like online dating – we weren’t sure exactly what it was going to look like in person. We continued to stop by Acadia on our outings and try to guess what window would be ours, what side of the building we would live on… we never guessed correctly, but my husband had a feeling it would be on the front side of the building, which it is.” 

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“When we first moved in, my older son, Said, said ‘Wow Mom, I feel like I’m in a five star hotel’ and even now he feels like he’s in a five star hotel. Both of my sons have been very happy since we’ve moved. Our old apartment was small and used to have an exposed heater that restricted where and how much room our two-year-old, Jairo Jr., could play in. Since moving, Jairo Jr. has had so much more room to run around and play – he’s like Speedy Gonzalez now! At his age with autism he’s not supposed to know where he lives but he knows the elevator and where the apartment is. Living in Acadia has been very helpful for him to grow – he doesn’t speak but he’s been communicating more in different ways and has learned new skills.”

Berta Ramos

This story is part of a collection of stories under the series Voices of Acadia. Each story highlights the residents in one of Acadia’s units and how they came to call it home. To read more stories in this series, click here.

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“We used to live in a bedroom of an apartment on Marlborough Street. A fire started in the building and it ended up burning down. At that point my son Jeffrey was two years old and I was three months pregnant with my daughter Tiffany. We were looking for a place to stay when the Red Cross helped us. We stayed at St. Luke’s Church, the old YMCA in Chelsea, and the Boys and Girls Club where my husband, son, and I all slept in a small bed. With everything going on and being pregnant I didn’t think about the fact that in a few months we would become a family of four.”

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“We lived on Broadway for seven years. During that time, I had my third child, Erickson. Erickson and Jeffrey shared a bedroom and Tiffany shared a room with me and my husband.”

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“When we won the lottery I was so shocked and surprised. I always wanted my daughter to have her own room and Erikson never had enough space to play with his toys so I knew it would be best for us to move. I started making payments on furniture for Tiffany’s room, but didn’t tell her. We got the furniture a week after moving in and Tiffany was so surprised and happy.”

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“Everything has changed since moving into Acadia. My husband and I used to be really stressed out all the time because we were all practically living on top of each other. My husband and I now have our own room and my kids have their own spaces and room to play. My kitchen at Broadway could only fit two people and the bathroom was right next to it. If someone had to use the bathroom I’d have to move out of the kitchen. I can now fit so many more people in my kitchen in Acadia and continue my love for cooking.”

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“Things happen for a reason. The fire in the apartment on Marlborough Street brought us to Broadway which then brought us to where we are now in Acadia.”

Bonnie Guimond

This story is part of a collection of stories under the series Voices of Acadia. Each story highlights the residents in one of Acadia’s units and how they came to call it home. To read more stories in this series, click here.

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“When my kids were growing up I only used enough so that I wouldn’t get sick because I also had two jobs and was a VISTA. I always called myself an active addict because I worked, raised kids, and still did drugs. I wasn’t much of a mother – I was there physically but I wasn’t there mentally. I can say I made life hard because of the choices I made, but I felt I had no choices to make. I felt like drugs was the only choice I had if I wanted any kind of life – if I wanted any kids or something because I couldn’t let a man come near me or touch me unless I was high.” 

“I started doing drugs when I was 12 years old and didn’t stop until 15 years ago. I started off on pot in a hand carved pipe on the tracks behind quality bakery in east Boston and after a while it wasn’t enough for me. My favorite high was angel dust because you weren’t going any farther away from reality when you smoked that – you were as far as you were gonna get. It got you out of reality, away from reality, and that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to escape reality and to be somebody else than who I really was because I didn’t like who I was. I felt that I was damaged goods. I’ve come a long way though.” 

“My mother was my biggest enabler. Without her I either would be dead or I would have been clean. I wouldn’t have been on drugs as long but that would have meant I’d have to deal with the issues. My father had already passed away. If I ever needed a place to go or needed money, my mother always helped me. When I lost her I lost all of my backups. Once she died it was either I get clean or die. I think it was my mother’s death that made me get clean. When I went to sell her house, I said the last time I lock this door will be the last time I use drugs. Who knew that after one showing it was gonna sell. That was the last time I got high and it’ll be 15 years this month. My mother never saw me straight but she sees me now and when I die I’ll be straight and she’ll see me then.” 

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“I got to a point where I decided I’m tired of living on the street. I’m tired of living with other people. I’m tired of not having my own keys. I’m tired of not having my name on a mailbox.”  

“Then One Beach was being built and I decided to apply there because I just needed to get rid of the stairs where I was living on Webster Ave. I had 18 stairs to get to the front door and another 12 to get to my bedroom – that's 30 steps, I don’t know how many times a day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve landed on my head trying to go up and down those stairs - I have more scars and stitches and concussions than I know.” 

“It was either I get my own place or I’m gonna end up in the Shattuck because I could not live where I was with the stairs for another winter. How many times can I hit my head before it’s gonna be too late or something really bad is gonna happen?”  

“When they started building Acadia, my application was in, but I made sure I’d go to the office and check in with the progress because I needed this apartment.” 

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“You know what it’s like to have your own set of keys to your house? If you’ve never had a set of keys you’d know what it feels like to have your name on a mailbox with your own set of keys to a house you can call your own. Even bills look good! They have your name on them – that means it’s your apartment. I didn’t have that for a long time. I haven’t had that since my kids were young. It’s a good feeling. And it’s a good feeling to live alone because I can do things on my time. I don’t have to walk on egg shells and I can still be the super clean person I am and there’s no one to tell me to stop cleaning all the time or ‘where’d you put this or where did you put that?’ I can tell you where everything in my cupboards are. Now I can live the way I want to.”

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“I thank God every morning. First for my feet hitting the floor. Then for where I am now and where I use to be. I will not do drugs ever again and I will not be associated with anyone who has drugs. Because this place is pretty nice and I don’t want to lose it.”