ARLINGTON, VA (WUSA 9) --- "I'm so glad and so thankful for my place."
Anita Edgerton gets tearful as she talks about her journey from staying at a homeless shelter to living in her own apartment. Edgerton entered the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network or A-SPAN last fall.
"I do suffer with depression. So that has been an issue for me...I was working, but I was still homeless. And it can really take a toll on you cause everyday you just don't know from one minute to the next."
A-SPAN had provided emergency winter shelter for Edgerton. The non-profit organization then connected her with their Permanent Supportive Housing Program. The program provides rental subsidies for over 30 people. Qualified participants had been chronically homeless and lived with some type of disability (physical and/or mental) that hindered self-sufficiency.
Inside her one-bedroom apartment, Edgerton sits on the couch and smiles as she flips through photos of her children and grandchildren. Her living environment has improved dramatically since she first entered A-SPAN's winter shelter in November, 2012.
A-SPAN supported Edgerton as she continued to work an early morning shift at her job. She says her work started at 2 a.m. The counselors made sure she could shower, eat and sleep while she maintained her work schedule.
"You really want to keep the period of time that someone is homeless to a minimum. And you're trying to get them into housing as quickly as possible. We're really proud of Anita because that has happened for her," said Kathleen Sibert, Executive Director of A-SPAN.
When Edgerton was homeless, A-SPAN wanted to get her into its shelter, so she could meet basic needs. After moving to her apartment in January, she finds pleasure in the small routines at home. She says she enjoys waking up and making the morning coffee in her kitchen.
"When I'm at home, I have my music on. I'm like dancing all around this table," said Edgerton who pays a portion of the rent, utilities and any other expenses.
After clients obtain shelter or housing, A-SPAN continues to help clients build a positive, healthy life. Case managers work with clients to learn how to manage a budget, get treatment for mental health issues and substance abuse.
The organization supports Arlington's homeless with a host of services. Over 1000 volunteers work to fulfill A-SPAN's mission.
With A-SPAN's assistance, Edgerton is currently looking for a better job.
"This is like my sanctuary, my peaceful place. Sometimes you know, I'm just in here crying, thanking God that I have a roof over my head."
NOTE: Gannett Foundation has provided a grant to A-SPAN.
Produced/Written by: Elizabeth Jia
WUSA 9 & WUSA9.com