In her own words:
“My name is Dayona – I’m a longtime Oakland resident, a single mom to my six-year-old son, Messiah who’s in first grade at Aspire Triumph Technology Academy. We are so blessed to call Foon Lok West home.
Before moving here in August, my son and I shared a small room in a converted studio to one-bedroom apartment in East Havenscourt, doing our best to get by even though apartment space was scarce and the neighborhood was rough. A far cry difference from here. With gun violence, drug dealing, people experiencing homelessness, sideshows, and vandalism, it seemed like Messiah was never able to go outside, ride a bike, or play in that neighborhood. He also has a chronic breathing disorder that requires daily medication, so it wasn’t an ideal situation, and still, we were forced to vacate the apartment earlier this summer with nowhere to go. We were displaced.
But in that situation, I knew I just had to pound the pavement. I applied for housing everywhere, every day. It’s extremely difficult to secure decent housing, but I’m a very determined person and I can’t give up – I have two little eyes looking up at me, watching every single thing that I do. I put my name on a million housing lists, it seemed. I would go online to see if something would come up. It made me sad to keep applying for places, even older, rundown places, and not having it work out. But it’s my son’s stability and physical health that’s in question, and our family’s wellbeing.
Time was running out before my son would have to start school in the fall, and I didn’t want us to be living like this when that happened. I was feeling very discouraged on the day I got the phone call about Foon Lok West, but my mood adjusted instantly! “Miss Johnson, are you still looking for a two-bedroom?” I’m like, yes. Do you want me to meet you right now?? I could sense our lives were going to change for the better.
We got the keys on August 16th and that was a phenomenal feeling. I sat in our apartment and looked out at the view, and took it in. It makes me very emotional because it’s just, I love being able to be in a clean space. It’s so nice. It’s spacious. My son has his own room. And the artwork is just out of this world. It brightens us up. The water right across the street. It’s just this environment. It’s like living the best things about Oakland what makes this city great. I’m very grateful.”