Jamie & Brenda Martinez

Jamie & Brenda Martinez

Jamie and Brenda Martinez

Downtown River Apartments
Petaluma, California

At seven months old, little Jamie Martinez slept under a pile of blankets to fend off the chill in the room she shared with her mother and father. When Jamie started crawling, Brenda realized the house in which she rented a room was not baby-proofed. 

Without too much hope, Brenda applied to a place at an affordable development she’d heard about through a friend. She was amazed when she got a call back from Jeanette Hoffman, manager of the Downtown River Apartments in Petaluma, saying there was an opening. 

“When this family came in, it was December, it was pouring rain,” recalls Jeanette, who herself lived in affordable housing as a young mother. “Their baby had been living in a home that was too cold. It just wasn’t right. I can’t tell you how good it makes you feel when you can help people this way.”

At the Downtown River Apartments, Brenda now has a two-bedroom home that is clean, affordable and, best of all, warm. Her husband is just six blocks from his job at a construction company, and Brenda can walk her daughter to different stores, shops, and parks. 

Brenda recalls that she and her husband had a dilemma that afternoon they received the key to their new place: Either wait to collect things from their old place, or move in right away with hardly any possessions. “We decided to stay in our new place that same night. We had no furniture at all, but we were very, very happy!”

Sarah Gudernatch