Returning to civilian life, Joseph never thought he would need to use skills learned as a Marine to get through a period of homelessness. But his ability to troubleshoot and adapt to challenging situations served him well during the time he had no place to call home.
Joseph enlisted at age 18 and was deployed to both Southeast Asia and Afghanistan during his time in the USMC. When he left the service, the G.I. Bill paid his living expenses while he earned an Environmental Studies degree at San Jose State University.
After graduation, he accepted a seasonal job with California State Parks. He loved working outdoors to preserve and conserve nature for others to enjoy, but the salary didn't come close to paying the high-priced housing costs in Silicon Valley. For the next 18 months, his situation was tenuous: he went from renting rooms on a monthly basis to finally, as a last resort, living in his car.
"I used the same logic to being homeless as planning for a long road trip," he says. "I had to figure out where to park overnight where you won't be hassled, where to find Wi-Fi, get cleaned up, do laundry. The military teaches you how to take a bad situation and make it normal."
But Joseph also discovered he was not alone and he did not have to accept his situation—one that plagues far too many in Silicon Valley, including some who have selflessly served their country.
Joseph connected with local assistance programs and found a landlord with a vacancy, but he discovered one more barrier to overcome: paying the large security deposit. Fortunately, there was someone to help with this. Joseph applied for and received support from Housing Trust Silicon Valley’s Finally Home Grant Program, which provides financial assistance to low-income individuals and families—helping with move-in costs and covering expenses such as security deposits, application costs, and utility set-up fees.
"It would have been pretty dang impossible for me if I hadn't had a Housing Trust Silicon Valley Finally Home grant," he said. "There is no extra money to save when you are earning seasonal pay."
With stable housing, Joseph can now focus entirely on his career goal: becoming a full-time park ranger.
Applied Materials and the Applied Materials Foundation are proud to support organizations working to decrease homelessness and economic insecurity for Silicon Valley residents, especially those who have served in the military.
“Applied Materials was one of the first corporations to step up and take action with us to tackle the region’s affordable housing crisis,” said Kevin Zwick, CEO of the Housing Trust. “Its commitment to our mission has been steadfast and invaluable.”
Since 2000, the Applied Materials Foundation has donated nearly $2 million to advance the Housing Trust’s efforts to create affordable housing opportunities.
“Applied Materials believes in making a positive contribution to the community through support of the Housing Trust, the Turkey Trot and other local projects,” says Joe Pon, corporate vice president at Applied Materials. “We support the Housing Trust to help the most vulnerable individuals and families have a place to call home.”
Housing Trust Silicon Valley is also one of five charities benefiting from the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, an annual Thanksgiving Day event that raises funds for local organizations addressing housing and economic instability.
To learn more about Applied Materials in the community, please visit http://www.appliedmaterials.com/company/corporate-responsibility or engage with us @Applied4Good on Twitter.