Myrtle remembers walking by the El Nor when she was a little girl living in the Central District. “I remember the women working with their flowers and veggies,” she recalls, alluding to the large, beautiful resident garden, “it was always here.”
Myrtle refers to herself as a “CD Baby” – she grew up here, raised her family here, and later, retired here. She’s seen a lot of changes in those times – buildings torn down, new people moving in, seniors and families getting pushed out. And yet, Myrtle hasn’t let that discourage her. She still feels a strong sense of community in the neighborhood, and even greets newcomers with a friendly “welcome to the CD!”
Nonetheless, she feels lucky to be able to continue living in the Central District. With rising rents and skyrocketing housing prices, she considers her home at Capitol Hill Housing’s 55-unit El Nor building for seniors to be a “blessing.” With a monthly rent she can afford on her fixed income, she is able to stay in her community where she knows everybody and has a strong social network, close to family and resources. Myrtle talks passionately about the bingo nights, the garden, and even regular outings that contribute to a strong sense of community within her building, where she knows her neighbors and feels safe and well cared for.
“We all have so much we can learn from one another,” she says, referring to both her neighbors and other community members. “It’s great to be able to share our histories.”
Despite all this, Myrtle says she is ready to move on. While her apartment is cozy, it is too small to comfortably host guests. And with her daughter and two grandchildren living close by, Myrtle would love to be able to have them over for dinner, and have a place for her grandson to sleep when he comes to visit. Myrtle hopes she can find this in the new apartments being built by Capitol Hill Housing at the Liberty Bank Building, at the site of the historic Liberty Bank.
“I opened my first bank account at Liberty Bank when I was 16,” Myrtle recalls. “It would feel like coming full circle to be able to live in a place with so much historic meaning.”
Looking back, Myrtle is proud of how far she’s come. She has a home, her family is doing well, and she is dedicated to using her life to make a difference for the younger generation. “I’ve struggled, my family’s struggled,” she says, “but I’m blessed to be where I am now, to have a home here in my ‘little sanctuary.’”