Most people drive by Blue Butterfly Way in San Pedro without realizing that it exists or where it leads. It’s a private road that takes drivers to a community of former Naval housing units behind the Rolling Hills Preparatory School.
Some homes are empty and vandalized, while others have been renovated by Volunteers of America as a subsidized housing program that provides 73 homes for homeless veterans and their families.
Tamara Robertson-Wright is a formerly homeless veteran who was in desperate need of its services three years ago.
“I felt like I was the only homeless veteran in the world with two kids and I could not believe I could let something like that happen,” said Wright.
Wright said she was in the Navy for five years before she was discharged and was ready to spend more time with her kids.
“When I got out of the military I had all these plans and I have all these things that I plan on doing and you know I had money saved and I really thought that I was set to live the civilian life until I became a civilian,” Wright said.
California accounts for just under 30 percent of all veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States, according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.
She said her homelessness journey took her and her two kids, at the time, to three states in two years to seek shelter before finding the Blue Butterfly Village.
Wright’s family was one of the first to move in, in 2015, with the help of property manager Shenick Covington.
“As with many of our families she came and it was very humbling for her and it took a minute for her to really feel at home here,” said Covington.
Wright says her circumstances put her into a depression.
“It’s my fault. I’m the parent, you know? Ultimately, it’s so heartbreaking,” Wright said.
She said it took her two years to come to terms with her situation and focus on a solution. Since then, having a roof over her family’s heads has helped her to create a business she’s passionate about. Wright makes and sells her Divine & Twined branded candles, lotions and other wellness tools with the intention and hope of providing comfort to those that need it.
“I’ve been able to accomplish so many things here in the past three years. I’ve been able to completely turn our lives completely around from where we were,” Wright said.
As she continues to grow her business at the Harbor City farmer's market, she knows she’s one day closer to being back on her own two feet.