S.O. Close to Homeless: Part Two

Medford, Ore. —  NBC5 News is partnering with Access to start a community discussion, and bring you an in-depth look into the lives of people who are homeless, have been homeless, or who are very close to it.

In week two, we’re meeting Diana Cooper and her family. Diana and her husband, Matt, spent years living with relatives, in hotels — even in their car — with their four kids.

“We’re actually going to celebrate 10 years of marriage this July,” Cooper said.

Cooper met her husband Matt in high school, in what they call a cliche relationship.

“I was a sophomore, he was a senior, and we met in choir,” Cooper said.

Now, almost 14 years later, they have four children, Aida, Erik, Tad and Noah. Like most kids, they all have household chores, but for a while, the family didn’t have a place to call home.

“We had a double stroller, with four kids, and suitcases, and just like, whatever we had,” Cooper said.

Over a couple years, the coopers lived with relatives on the coast, in an 11-foot trailer, in different hotels,  even in their car.

“We had a van, and we stayed in our van in the talent Walmart parking lot, when the talent Walmart was still open,” Cooper said.

At that point, they had three young children, with one on the way.

“I was pregnant with my youngest, so we took all the car seats out, and put them up, and put blankets over them, and we would sleep in the back, and in the morning we’d drive to the front, and we’d all take turns going and using the restroom and cleaning up, and we did that for quite a while, a couple months,” Cooper said.

Meanwhile, Matt was battling a drug addiction.

“Then we did end up getting a place, and I had Noah, and a couple months before I had Noah, I started getting into my addiction,” Cooper said.

They ended up having to leave that apartment, due to renovations. Without another option, the family, with a newborn baby, reached out to local services.

“We had actually a lot of help with housing, St. Vincent De Paul, we had an Outreach worker from Medford, that would come to Ashland, and help, they helped with some of our bills and rent, and then Maslow kind of got hooked in,” Cooper said.

Along with help from DHS and the Family Nurturing Center, both Diana and Matt were able to get clean. From there, the Coopers got into an apartment, and finally, their house, where they’ve lived for three years now.

While the family was working to get into a home, Cooper was working on a project of her own.

“I got the job as a community health worker, I’d been going to school this whole time,” Cooper said.

Her job allowed her to help people in the same situation her family had just made it out of.

“We’re all just two paychecks away from being homeless,” Cooper said. “There are people out there that have bachelors degrees and masters degrees that are homeless.”

While some call her story a success, Cooper says it’s not an experience that she’ll ever consider to be over.

“It takes a lot of perseverance, it’s not just like a done thing,” Cooper stated.

At the end of the day, Cooper says she’s happy to be able to help people in the same way she was helped, just a few years ago. She encourages anyone needing help to seek it.

“The longer you hold out, the more you suffer, and so when you finally reach out for help, or when you finally give up is when you get saved,” Cooper said.

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