PORTLAND, Ore. — Daria Anderson couldn’t wait to show off her new apartment in Northwest Portland. It has two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.
“Come on in here,” said Anderson, walking through the front door. “Welcome to my crib. We’re still unpacking.”
Anderson moved into the unit, along with her adult son, two weeks ago. She’d been on a waiting list.
“I cried for a couple days,” said Anderson. “I’ve just been looking around. It has four walls. This is an apartment!”
The 65-year-old featured in the KGW documentary ‘One Day’ had been sleeping in an emergency shelter at night. During the day, she worked as a floor supervisor at a Rite-Aid pharmacy in Portland’s Pearl district.
After appearing in the documentary, Anderson said many of her long-time customers came forward anxious to help.
“Nobody knew I was homeless until they saw me on TV,” said Anderson, who explained that someone paid her first and last month’s rent. That’s what she needed to get into the apartment. Anderson can cover the monthly rent.
“This is a miracle for me and my son,” explained Anderson. Her son, who is disabled, would often spend days in their parked minivan while she worked.
Anderson said the apartment gives them both a safe place to stay. It is near her work. It provides much needed stability and freedom. They can take a shower whenever they wish. They can use a private bathroom. And they don’t have to pack up early, each morning — like they did when sleeping in the emergency shelter, explained Anderson.
“We can just stay here. We can sleep in. That’s a relief,” explained Anderson.
The documentary "One Day" captured the street-level response to Portland’s homeless crisis during a 24-hour period. A team of journalists chronicled the struggle that unfolds day in and day out for those experiencing homelessness and those providing them support.
For many people, including Anderson, one of the greatest challenges is the lack of affordable housing in Portland.
“Nobody can afford $1,500 for a studio, making $15 an hour,” said Anderson. “Count it. Your health insurance, if you’re driving or using TriMet — you still have to pay for a lot of things. With $15 an hour, that’s not enough money.”
Anderson hopes others experiencing homelessness will be inspired by her story. She hopes they too can find resources and get the help they need to find affordable housing.
“I want them to see the story,” said Anderson. “If I can do it, so can they.”