Friday, February 28 2014

Zondre at Home at the NoHo Senior Villas


Interviewing Zondre at her home in the Valley was an inspiration. The journey she shared with us was riveting in the details of her becoming homeless, helping herself out of homelessness, and moving into a peaceful community at the NoHo Senior Villas, designed by KFA.

Zondre has a gregarious, direct personality, a gift she gives her mother credit for, relating that her mother always said, “Zondre, tell it like it is, keep it honest and keep it real.” After dealing with her own struggles after her mother passed away and caring for her ninety-nine year old father, Zondre found herself without housing and staying in a PATH shelter in Hollywood, despite pleas from her children to let them help out. Employing self-help techniques such a journaling and services from PATH, and through her own will to improve her situation, she found a way to work through her issues and eventually into PATH’s career services programs. Zondre was able to stabilize her life and finances enough to qualify for a voucher for her own apartment, leading her to NoHo.

Now Zondre is a volunteer and motivational speaker working for several non-profit causes, including All of Us or None. In the past, she worked for S.M.A.S.H. (Stop Murder And Save Humanity), a group that provided mediation to decrease gang related violence. Zondre’s mission is “to see violence against innocent people end,” a cause that hits close to home since she lost her brother to gang violence.

The North Hollywood redevelopment area is ideal for non-drivers like Zondre, as it is convenient to transportation, restaurants, stores, a public library, and the YMCA. Zondre embodies the ideal of car-free urban living: she walks to services, and she takes Metro (a Red Line station is one block from home) to work and to visit her daughters in Long Beach.

When Zondre talks about her home and neighbors, you can see the pride she has in her new community in North Hollywood. Teamwork was a recurring theme for her, and with many singles living in the building, checking in on one another and attending weekly coffee hours is vital to building support networks.

Zondre attributes the building’s peacefulness to a sense of safety, the varied community spaces and the quality of the building management. Her favorite spot is the rooftop where she can be alone to write or have a get-together with friends and family, including a granddaughter whom Zondre frequently babysits.

Zondre is certain her story is only one of 49 in the building, with each person living their journey and the building serving as a safe haven along the way.