Having lived with her parents, Sylvia Rivera longed for a home she and her sons could call their own.
That wish was fulfilled four years ago upon moving to an Opportunity Home San Antonio community.
Making the most of her new beginnings, Rivera accepted a job as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) at a local clinic in November 2022.
“It makes me feel good to be a nurse,” she said. “When I tell someone I haven’t seen in awhile I am a nurse, they tell me they could always see that I would become something. My parents tell me how proud they are of me, to keep going and to never give up.”
Rivera is far from done with reaching her goals. She plans to return to college, enroll in a registered nursing program and purchase a home.
In May, Rivera decided to take a leap to reach those goals by enrolling in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program.
“It would mean everything to accomplish my goals,” she said. “I have struggled with being a single parent, not having help from anyone. I have done it on my own. Achieving goals on my own would show my boys that they can achieve anything they want.”
The FSS program assists residents such as Rivera with working toward short- and long-term goals, such as education, employment and homeownership, within a five-year period. During voluntary participation in the program, residents can earn an escrow from increased earned income, which they receive upon graduation.
Opportunity Home currently employs 15 resident service coordinators who guide more than 850 residents in the program. Open to public housing and Housing Choice Voucher participants, those interested in enrolling can visit their property management office or the Federal Housing Programs Lobby, 820 S. Flores St., on Wednesdays to fill out an interest form.
“We will work with you to get an education, job training and getting into a GED program — anything that will help increase your income,” said Viridiana Rivera, assistant director of the Resident Engagement Team. “As your income increases, your rent will increase, so that difference in rent will go into an escrow account. In five years, residents can walk away with $10,000-$15,000 to purchase a home, car or anything else that can help them become self-sufficient.”
Resident service coordinators are motivated to help residents reach their goals regardless of the obstacles they may face.
“We are here to help you achieve a goal that you didn’t think you could or would achieve,” said Viridiana Rivera. “The program promotes an overall well-being where you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
For Sylvia Rivera, it’s important to push forward when running into obstacles.
“You can achieve whatever it is you want to do,” she said. “Whatever you are going through can be temporary. Stay positive and positive things will happen.”
For more information on the FSS program, email [email protected] or call 210.477.6221.