Resident Spotlight: Josseline Rivas-Valdez

JubileehousingResident Spotlight

Josseline RivasFor most of her life, 30-year-old Josseline didn’t understand the meaning of a supportive home. After her mother left her at age nine, she lived with a string of abusive relatives and violent boyfriends before deciding to leave El Salvador for the United States at age 18. “I was getting tortured by my baby’s father. He was raping me, abusing me, everything—until I escaped,” she said.

But life wasn’t much easier after immigration. Josseline and her son Bryan spent a decade moving from one apartment to another in DC, dealing with rough neighborhoods and harsh landlords in order to keep a roof over their heads. “It was a really tough time. I got raped in 2013. I got beat up in 2013 as well. I was always scared of everything,” she said.

About two years ago, Josseline remembers sitting in church and praying that her suffering would come to an end. “I prayed that God would touch someone’s heart to give us a place to live.” Josseline returned from church and got a call from Jubilee Housing saying that an apartment had opened up in its Sorrento building. “It melted my heart. I didn’t know what to do. I never had a place of my own in my whole life,” she said.

Josseline and Bryan moved into Jubilee Housing in 2013, and Josseline quickly realized that her new apartment was more than bricks and mortar – it was a place where she could find support and community. “For the first time in my life I had a safe place and a nice support team that was connected to my doctors and everything. I felt really protected,” she said.

Today, when Josseline feels depressed or afraid, she checks in with Jubilee’s Resident Life team for help. When she needs advice in raising her sons Bryan and Joel, she takes parenting classes in Jubilee’s Family Resource Center.

While Josseline is not yet 100 percent healthy – she still struggles with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – she says that Jubilee Housing has been instrumental in her transformation thus far. “I don’t feel suicidal anymore. I’ve been working hard on my therapy. I’ve been talking to my psychologist,” she said. “It’s amazing how housing, medicine, and good support work together.”