Member Spotlight: Ruben & Roberta

“Once you experience homelessness, there’s this fear of it happening again.  

Coming to Step Up was like coming home.” 

— Ruben, US Army Veteran, Step Up Member  


On any given night in the United States, more than 33,000 veterans will experience homelessness.  

At Step Up, we believe that’s 33,000 too many. To help bring that number to zero, we are committed to providing vibrant housing communities that offer hope and healing for hundreds of our nation’s chronically homeless veterans. With onsite support services, Step Up is a permanent safe haven for those who have sacrificed so much for our country, only to find themselves staring down the grim face of housing insecurity on a very different type of battlefield. 

With the security of a roof over your head, it can be hard to imagine the trials of homelessness. Being stripped of adequate living conditions causes your body to enter a chronic state of survival, exposing your physical and mental health to detrimental amounts of stress. In such a high-pressure environment, fear and anxiety can take over, often leaving lasting damage that can persist even once housed. That’s why Step Up’s comprehensive approach of combining permanent supportive housing with rich wraparound services is crucial to helping people stabilize, recover, and thrive.  

For Ruben and Roberta, the Supportive Veterans Housing provided by Step Up was transformational.  

U.S. Army Veteran Ruben and his partner Roberta became destabilized after being confronted with serious and unexpected medical issues. Without a safety net, they faced growing housing insecurity, until eventually keeping a roof over their heads meant living out of their truck. The months that followed were some of the most physically and mentally demanding times Ruben and Roberta have faced in their 15 years together. 

“Once you experience homelessness, there’s this fear of it happening again,” says Ruben. “Coming to Step Up was like coming home.”  

Roberta agrees, “We’re finally safe…we don’t have to be afraid anymore.” 

The housing and support offered by Step Up allowed Ruben and Roberta to break free from the distressing and unpredictable burdens of homelessness, and the welcoming atmosphere of their new home helped them begin to rebuild their lives. From BBQ dinners and courtyard picnics to movie nights and bingo, they are now part of a lively community of veterans that promotes physical, emotional, and social well-being. Ruben and Roberta love the variety of ways they can be involved, especially when it comes to giving back.  

“Ruben and Roberta have become staples in our community,” says Angie Zamora, Service Coordinator at Step Up. “Roberta will often join me to cook a fresh meal for our residents. Her tamales are the talk of the entire development!”  

Three years after moving in, Ruben and Roberta continue to pay forward the hospitality with which they were so warmly welcomed. Recently for Flag Day, they organized a ceremony to help the community pay their respects to our nation and reminded residents of the importance of hope. 

“Many residents had lost so much for so long,” says Angie. “When we provide them with the sense that they matter and that they can get back on their feet and start all over, it gives them hope for the future and reminds them not all is lost. That is the heart of Step Up.”   

Ruben and Roberta’s story wouldn’t be possible without the support of people like you. If you would like to help bring home more veterans this summer, please make a donation to help end homelessness. 

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