As builders and managers of affordable housing throughout Southern California, C&C Development and Orange Housing Development understand the value that quality housing and services bring to each of our communities by providing the opportunity for both families and senior citizen residents to enhance their life and lifestyle. 
We know that the residents who live in our properties have compelling life stories to tell and we are helping them share their stories via a series of personal interviews titled “Helping People Live Better Lives.” Our fifth interview is with Amy Kilpatrick, a resident of our Depot at Santiago apartment community in Santa Ana, CA. We greatly appreciate Amy’s participation in this feature series, which we publish on a regular basis. We would welcome your comments at [email protected].
Amy Kilpatrick’s life underscores what is the true importance of quality, affordable housing. Now a resident of the Depot at Santiago Apartments in Santa Ana, Amy had been homeless for most of her adult life while dealing with many challenges from mental health issues to a devastating health problem.

Amy knows how hard life can be. She was born in San Antonio, Texas, to illegal immigrants 26 years ago.  Her father was deported back to his home country in Central America soon after her birth and she lost track of her mother. At some point in her young age she became a ward of the State of Texas through foster care and, due to health and mental disabilities, life for the young girl was always a struggle. 
One Foster Home After Another
The combination of foster care and her increasingly difficult childhood compounded by a severe physical condition – which she prefers not to disclose – saw her move from one foster home to another through her teen years. Eventually, she outgrew the foster care system and at 18 years old she was on her own, and the uncertainty of life without a family or support system overtook her. 

As is frequently the case with people without a support network, Amy became homeless and then turned to the refuge of drugs and alcohol. She also continued to deal with her daunting health issue and was haunted by the cruelty of schizophrenia. Her journey of transiency eventually found her living homeless on the streets of Los Angeles, where she continued to mask her health and mental disabilities with drugs and alcohol abuse. A victim of street life, she also gave birth to two children who she gave up for adoption at birth.

But Amy was determined to turn her life around. She sought shelter and some degree of safety by as frequently as possible sleeping in homeless facilities or on the couches of friends. She also decided to move to Orange County in 2014 where she was able to enroll in the Stay Process, a life changing program that helps young people with their recovery from addiction and mental illness by providing an array of critical health services and housing opportunities. 
Her Life Changes for the Better
Amy’s life did change for the better. Under the care of a psychiatrist, she was able to treat her mental illness and a doctor prescribed her medication to manage her health issues. In 2018, she married her best friend, Matthew, also homeless, and together they pursued a better life, but the lack of access to permanent housing was still an overshadowing issue.  Sometimes a park bench was their home.

That all changed in April 2018 when Amy and Matthew were selected to be one of the first residents to move into the Depot at Santiago with assistance provided by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding administered by the County of Orange. This April marked two years since they left the streets to make a home at the Depot and May was their second wedding anniversary.

“Life is good for us,” says Amy, who cherishes her sobriety and is under the care of a mental health professional. “My health has improved and living here has helped both of us deal with the mental and physical issues that come with homelessness. We have good neighbors and friends and professional support when we need it.”   

Another advantage of having a permanent home is that it has opened the door for Amy to be in touch with one of her children, which she is able to do through Skype. “We talk as frequently as possible and it’s bringing us closer,” she says, and looks forward to the day she will be able to talk with her other child when hopefully that door opens.
The Depot at Santiago, a transit-oriented, affordable apartment community built in Santa Ana by C&C Development LLC and Orange Housing Development Corporation in partnership with the City of Santa Ana. The 70-unit apartment community creates a new supply of transportation friendly workforce housing for the City of Santa Ana as well as a neighborhood resource and activity center for surrounding families.

The Depot’s residential component encompasses 14 one-bedroom, 29 two-bedroom, and 27 three-bedroom apartments with rents affordable to households whose incomes range from 30 percent to 60 percent of area median income (AMI). With funding from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) administered by the County of Orange, the Depot provides apartments for formerly homeless individuals and families. The Depot at Santiago is also a social, educational, health and cultural hub for the adjacent neighborhoods through services provided by The Wooden Floor, a non-profit organization that gives underserved youth the tools to live fuller, healthier lives through a unique lifestyle approach based on the dynamics of dance.