LOS ANGELES — It’s been over two months since Elizabeth Estes and her two sons packed their bags off the Venice boardwalk and took a leap of faith by taking interim housing in a Culver City motel room.
Now, Estes' dream of having a place to call home is a reality once again as she holds a set of keys to her family’s two-bedroom apartment.
"It feels good," Estes said. "It feels good to even look at them. I mean, I haven’t seen keys in a while."
The family’s journey out of homelessness has been difficult. But Estes couldn’t be happier to see her their belongings fill their new space.
“I didn’t know what to expect, and I just kept pushing and pushing, you know, making sure they didn’t forget about us. And yeah, there was a lot of paperwork and headaches. But it was worth it.”
According to the latest data from the St. Joseph Center, 14 people have been placed in permanent housing — including the Estes family — through the six-week Encampment to Home program led by Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin.
The program, with the help of the St. Joseph Center and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority outreach workers, has connected 185 other individuals who experienced homelessness in Venice with a caseworker to soon find their own permanent space to call home.
Casey Pratts, outreach head with LAHSA, has been working with the Estes family ever since they made their way off the boardwalk. Most recently, she helped the family shop online for items that were paid for by the St. Joseph Center to help furnish the apartment. Pratts is happy to help the family make their journey home.
"They are going to be getting a delivery of household items, furniture, towels, sheets, blankets, everything like that," she said. "[The St. Joseph Center] also helped with the move-in cost."
As the family waits for their furniture to come in, Estes is already beginning to plan out their next steps.
"It’s been a long road and a hard one," she said. "It’s been a hard one for me, especially my health. I need to take care of myself now."
The latest move also comes with a feeling that Estes can’t help but be grateful for, knowing that her family will be there together all under one roof.