Virginia finally unpacks her suitcase after living out of one for 20 years

Virginia had been living out of suitcase for two decades – bouncing from friend’s house to friend’s house – always confined to just a bedroom, never with a space to call her own.

“At that time, to rent a place of my own was around $800 a month,” she says. “And sometimes I was living off that much for the whole month.”

She was constantly vulnerable to the contingencies in her friends’ lives because she couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. “You never knew when their situation was going to change,” she remembers. “Nothing was ever stable. Because if their situation changed, so did yours.”

Her friend’s teenaged children began stealing from her and throwing raucous parties when their mother wasn’t home. But Virginia was home. She didn’t feel safe. Anxiety began to eat away at her and she tumbled into depression.

“There were times when I would sit outside not knowing where I was because my mind was in a cloud,” Virginia says. “I just didn’t want to go where I was living. It wasn’t home.”

When she was nearing her senior years, Virginia’s ligaments began to tear. She could no longer work. With a letter from her doctor in hand, she applied to live in an apartment building operated by Trinity Place Foundation of Alberta.

She was accepted. “I was so happy,” she beams.

Now Virginia comes home to a cozy unit where her possessions are just the way she left them. She locks the door behind her and feels safe. Her health has improved. And she can have her granddaughter over for the whole weekend.

“Having a roof over your head and food in your stomach is everything,” Virginia says. “If you don’t have that, there’s nothing to look forward to.”

Having a roof over your head and food in your stomach is everything. If you don’t have that, there’s nothing to look forward to.