Compton military vet, single mom gets new home
Kamil Taylor-Diggs had always done things for herself — something she thought would never change, even when she found herself broke, unemployed and homeless in Las Vegas.
“This was very stressful and frustrating because I had had a very nice apartment, but I didn’t have any support out there when I fell on hard times,” said the 31-year old military veteran and Compton native. “I went from having my own home, to not having anything. ”
Until she lost her job, the single mother of two had also been attending school full-time, majoring in social work. She eventually had to drop out.
During this time, her 6-year-old son was diagnosed with developmental difficulties, which required more medical care and attention from the now unemployed mom.
She returned home to Compton to be near family, but things continued to get worse. Unable to move in with relatives, she found herself homeless.
That was, until she met Gail Crandall, the social services director with the Salvation Army Long Beach Citadel Corps, who helped her get hotel vouchers and guided her to services needed to care for her family. This week she moved into a new home, and even enrolled in online college courses, majoring in psychology.
In January, Crandall had come to speak to women veterans living at the Village of Cabrillo, a temporary residential community for homeless veterans, located on the formerly 26-acre U.S. Naval housing site in Long Beach.
“As I was speaking personally with some of the women, I asked if they had everything they needed to move out, like dishes, pots and pans, silverware, towels, etc.,” Crandall said. “I was upset to learn that, for most, they have nothing. ”
Crandall left that meeting determined to do something. She made a list of basic necessities, finding it would take about $250 to move into a new place, and put together “Welcome to Your New Home” kits for veterans.
She solicited financial support to local social service organizations; the Downtown Lions Club was first to join, donating money for the first 30 kits, Crandall said.
Taylor-Diggs was the first veteran referred to the Salvation Army for help. The organization is now expanding their work to other veterans, including helping them find Section 8 housing, what Crandall said was “just another step in the right direction.”
She said 33 percent of school-age children 5 to 17 live in poverty in Long Beach.
“Organizations like The Salvation Army help people to meet their basic needs in a dignified and loving way,” Crandall said. “It is important because it is through the meeting of these basic needs that a caring community reaches out with support and encouragement that opens the door to other referrals and opportunities that change lives. ”
Thanks to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) voucher, Taylor-Diggs was given the keys to her new home in Los Angeles and presented her Welcome Home Kit by the L.B. Salvation Army.
“People need to know that there are services out there — you just have to grind the pavement to find them,” Taylor-Diggs said. “You don’t have to sleep on the street, you don’t have to lose your home, you don’t have to be without food. “