CINCINNATI — Valerie Lane finally has a new place to call home.
WCPO 9 first reported her story last month.
A ceiling in Lane's Westwood apartment had collapsed, and rain had soaked much of her clothing, furniture and other belongings. The landlord told all the building’s tenants they had to move by Sept. 30, but Lane was struggling to find a place to go.
Many readers and viewers responded to Lane’s story with offers to help. On Friday, help arrived.
Movers hired by Neighborhoods United began loading up her belongings to take them to her new home at City West in Cincinnati’s West End.
“I feel better,” she said Friday, sitting on her couch as her living room ceiling dripped and movers worked around her. “I feel better that I am, you know, at least going toward a better thing.”
Neighborhoods United raised $2,000 to help Lane — initially planning to use that money to temporarily move her into a hotel so she could leave her place in Westwood, said chair Brian Garry.
But Lane didn’t want to leave her possessions behind because she has been robbed in the past, Garry said, so she stayed in Westwood until Garry found her someplace to move.
“She’s a disabled senior citizen, and she deserves better than this,” Garry said. “Normally, I’m a pretty connected person, and I can find people housing. I went to all of my resources — all of them. I exhausted my resources. Nobody could do anything.”
Finally, Garry said, he helped Lane find a place at City West. Neighborhoods United paid her application fee and security deposit, he said, and Garry took Lane to sign her lease and pick up her keys Thursday.
‘It can’t be this cold-hearted’
Lane, 64, has a housing choice voucher, the federal housing subsidy more commonly known as Section 8. The voucher was set to expire earlier this year, but she got an extension through the end of September. Garry said he helped her get another extension through the end of October.
Finding a place to accept the voucher was difficult, Garry said, and took much longer than he initially had hoped after first learning about her situation from the WCPO 9 story.
“The market has just gone through the roof, and affordable housing is at an extreme shortage,” he said. “I’m very thankful for the community, because they did come together.”
Lane gave up hope more than once over the past six weeks, she said.
“It just seemed like don’t nobody care no more. And I say, it can’t be this cold-hearted,” she said. “But I’d say, I know God wouldn’t keep you here for this much pain and not give you a good outcome.”
Lane said she’s eager to have everything moved into her new home so she doesn’t have to think about the apartment in Westwood anymore.
Other tenants, including a woman with a little boy, are still living in the building because they have not been able to find anywhere to move, she said. Lane said she’s hoping maybe they can move to City West, too.
Now that Lane’s outlook is brighter, she said, she has a message for everyone who is following her story.
“Just have a little heart,” she said. “Just be there for each other. And this world will be a whole lot better.”
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region — to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on problems we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for Lucy and for WCPO 9. To reach Lucy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.