Real Stories About Real People

HCD programs have a significant impact on communities. The general practice is to quantify this effect, in numbers, dollars, and units. Perhaps a more compelling way to explore HCD’s successes is through the voices of the individuals and families who have lived them.

That’s the concept behind a project recently launched by HCD’s Communication division. A few individuals and families who have benefited from HCD-funded projects are being identified and interviewed on camera for a “Success Story” video project.

From farmworkers to seniors to single moms, these residents of the Golden State tell their stories about how their lives have been transformed, thanks to HCD and its partners.

The most recent testimonial comes from Crystal Gonzalez-Fernandez. Crystal’s IMG_2003connection with HCD is through the department’s Office of Migrant Services (OMS) program. She was born in Bakersfield and every year during the growing season, her family migrates to Watsonville where they live in a clean and simple home at the Buena Vista Migrant Center. As an agricultural worker, Crystal’s father spends long, mostly sunny days picking fruit and loading crates in a strawberry field. These delicious berries are packaged right on the spot and are quickly shipped to grocery stores across California under the Driscoll’s brand. IMG_2075

Crystal and her father tell the story of how the affordability and dependability of their farmworker housing have made it possible for Crystal and her identical twin sister to attend Cabrillo College, just a few miles away. The reduced rent the family pays allows the twins to spend their days in the classroom instead of the field alongside her father and other workers. Crystal’s father takes pride in his work, but he hopes for a less strenuous life for his girls after their college graduation.

The Success Story project will collect other testimonial interviews, which along with Crystal’s, will create a video mosaic of Success Stories. Other California residents to be included are those who live in infill infrastructure developments, emergency shelters, and transit-oriented developments. This collection will paint a real picture with real people and focus on the human interest side of HCD’s mission. DVDs with the video stories will be distributed among stakeholders, Legislators, and other state agencies, and will be posted on HCD’s website.

This project presents an exciting opportunity to expand on the usual dry numbers and charts, to show in pictures and narrative the sustainable improvements HCD’s programs make in people’s lives.