The 24-year-old was arrested on a weapons charge when officers investigating her relative learned his loaded gun was hidden in her room. She was living with her mother and boyfriend at the time, and her youngest was barely a week old.
‘‘When I got arrested I was crying every night,’’ she said. ‘‘I was so worried about my kids, they depend on me, they asked for me every day. I can’t be apart from them.’’
She lives in a small two-bedroom on the first floor with her three kids, now 8, 7 and almost 2. Blackwood is studying for her GED and hopes to go to college.
‘‘It makes me feel independent. Like I can make decisions on my own, raise my kids,’’ she said. ‘‘I can’t imagine it any other way now.’’
Ideally, program founders say, there would also be funding for some type of transitional help for these women, in addition to more buildings to house more families. Zimmer met this week with district attorney’s office staff to hunt for extra cash, but no solutions have been found.
Silva, too, said she would never be able to afford the apartment alone.
Her second-floor apartment is tidy and bright, and she has added small flourishes to make it her own. A vase of roses on the table. A bowl of seashells from a nearby beach. A giant stuffed bear sits on the couch, a gift from her now-15-year-old son, who has been living with her since February. A portrait of him on his first communion hangs in her bedroom. A welcome home sign hangs in his.
‘‘He just wants to move forward, to live now,’’ she said of Francisco. ‘‘He is a little big man. I think my son is amazing. He is so mature.’’