Happy and Peaceful in a CARE Home

Connie Cardena’s Story

Connie Cardena was born and raised in Fort Collins. Her grandmother immigrated to the United States from Mexico, and every time Connie leaves home, she always finds her way back. It’s her family that keeps her rooted here.

Currently, Connie is living in a three-bedroom CARE Housing apartment with two grandchildren, whom she legally adopted. She rents their home and is “happy and peaceful.”

Finding housing through CARE was a simple process, Connie said.

“Five years ago, I was going through a divorce and staying with my son in Loveland. I looked for housing in Fort Collins because Fort Collins is home to me; I raised all of my children in Fort Collins. I drove around and saw a CARE Housing sign, filled out the paperwork, and received a phone call about a month later.”

Initially, Connie and her grandchildren were in a two-bedroom apartment, but they “upgraded” a few years later. Connie doesn’t plan to leave CARE housing, because she’s concerned she won’t be able to find an accessible and affordable apartment elsewhere.

While waiting for that call from CARE, Connie said she also applied for Section 8 in Loveland, but there was a five-year waiting list. “The market rents were very expensive,” Connie said. “Huge deposits. Affordable housing was really the only option for me and my grandchildren.”

Connie doesn’t think housing in Fort Collins is accessible to everyone who needs a home, including parents and grandparents who are raising kids by themselves, because of the high rents and long waiting lists. Connie is part of a grandparent coalition. She sees a lot of grandparents taking care of their grandkids, and a lot of them are having a hard time financially.

“I get scared when I don’t have employment,” she said. “I had to leave my last job because they will take Medicaid away from me and my grandkids.”

Connie would also like to see more advocates for non-English speaking and non-legal residents in Fort Collins, so these community members can find affordable housing, too.

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It’s important that every member of our community has a safe and stable home.