Lincoln Heights family living in parking lot given new home

After living in a parking lot, high school sophomore Maria Christina Benitez has a bedroom for the first time in her life.

“All my life I’ve lived in an apartment,” she said. “Now, we have a home. I lost so much stuff but I gained so much more. I’m so happy for that.”

Tears of joy were hard to hide as it was not too long ago when Benitez and her family were homeless with nowhere to go.  With no insurance nor a steady income, Benitez, her brother and their parents were forced to live underneath a simple canopy after a fire destroyed their Lincoln Heights apartment about a month ago.

Through the generosity of the Red Cross and Sacred Heart Church, the family left the parking lot and moved into a hotel. 

With help from PATH, an organization that helps the unhoused find homes, the Benitez family moved into their new home. They get to stay there for at least a year and their rent is determined by income. 

“I didn’t think so much help would be offered and how far we got,” said 17-year-old Gabriel Benitez. “Thanks to everyone.”

Gabriel, a freshman at CalState LA, recently moved into a dorm and said knowing his family has a place to stay is life-changing.

“They’re doing better. I see them more happy,” he said. 

They also received help from many in the community with a GoFundMe page raising $30,000 to help them start over. 

For now, the family is focusing on healing and happiness as they realize how thankful they are to escape not only a fire but homelessness because of the kindness of strangers.

“I love you for helping me,” their father Gabriel said. “Today is very happy.”

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