Vouching for veterans
Cami McCorkle, a former marine and mother of 8-year old twin boys, was ecstatic when she got the news that she qualified for a housing voucher through a new program between Yamhill County's veteran services and the Housing Authority of Yamhill County.
McCorkle, 31, who is due to deliver her third boy in December, became homeless when she left a violent domestic situation.
"I packed up the kids and put our stuff in a storage unit," she said. "Now we're starting over."
As she talked about how she came to be homeless, her boys, Matthew and Michael, popped in and out of the play structure at McMinnville's City Park. They flashed gap-toothed smiles as she called "I love you" to them.
"That's one thing we've got for us," she said. "We've got a lot of love in our family," she said.
McCorkle said she was a punk teenage kid when she joined the marines fresh out of high school, at the age of 17. Partly, she said, to prove she could. She described her nearly two year run in the Marines as a lifestyle change.
Her military career ended much sooner than she preferred with an honorable discharge and a story she prefers not to talk about. But still, she said it was an awesome experience she wouldn't trade for anything.
She said she uses some of her military experience with her boys, snapping herself to attention to get theirs. Or, if they're really pushing it, she said she snaps them to attention as well. They respond well to it, McCorkle said, adding that her boys both have a reverence for veterans and an understanding of what their service means.
"I ask them 'what behavior are you choosing?' They're pretty awesome, though," McCorkle said.
McCorkle went from being homeless to having hope after her same-day appointment with Yamhill County's Veteran Services Officer Jerry Wilson.
"I couldn't have done it without him. He is phenomenal," McCorkle said. She said she was connected with Wilson through her contact at Yamhill Community Action Partnership.
"Then, within two weeks I had an appointment with the Housing Authority," she said.
Currently, she said she is in the process of looking for a home. Getting the voucher was overcoming a huge hurdle, she said, but there are more ahead. For one thing, she said she's having a hard time getting a job being 8-months pregnant. And that she said, creates a catch-22 because no one wants to accept her housing voucher since she can't prove what her income will be.
McCorkle said she hasn't given up hope on finding a job though.
"I'm still trying to get my foot in the door, anywhere," she said. "Options are slowly opening up. I won't give up."
A voucher she described as "a magical green sheet. It's your ticket to subsidize housing costs."
McCorkle completed the "Ready to Rent" program through the Housing Authority. "It helps us to learn how to do a budget and be a good tenant. Jay helped me look at my situation in a different light. Now, I know there are steps I can take to be a good tenant. I don't have a big budget right now, but I can still prioritize my needs versus my wants."
McCorkle has a deadline to use her voucher, and she said she's determined to find a home by Dec. 17. Ideally, though she said she'd love to have her family settled in by Thanksgiving.
McCorkle grinned as she crossed her fingers, "we won't be homeless for long."