Edna lost her parents at a young age and spent years struggling to put a roof over her head. Rents in Chicago were rising faster than wages, and Edna couldn’t afford any of the apartments she found. She questioned her self-worth and didn’t think she had a future until she found Mercy Housing.

As rents climb at alarming rates across the country, more and more people struggle to afford even modest rental homes and apartments. Research has shown that affordable housing has the power to end cycles of poverty, but despite organizations like Mercy Housing, which builds and finances new affordable housing communities across the country, the nation is still desperately lacking in affordable homes.

The life-changing stability of having her own home transformed what Edna thought she was capable of. After moving into an affordable apartment, Edna enrolled in and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, and she was on her way to pursuing her dream of becoming a chef.

She is living her best life, the one she didn’t even have the courage to dream of a few years ago.

“I struggled with going back to school because I didn’t have confidence in myself, but every day I would come home and Mercy Housing staff would say ‘don’t give up,’ and I didn’t,” Edna says.

People from all walks of life — working families, aging seniors, veterans — need a place to live. There is no possibility of improving your circumstances if you don’t have your basic needs met, and shelter is the most basic. A home located near transportation, education and, most importantly, people, can change the trajectory of a person’s life.

Since 1981, Mercy Housing, the nation’s largest affordable housing non-profit, has built over 24,000 apartments in major markets across the country and has helped finance communities in 41 states. Despite almost constant development for decades, Mercy Housing and like-minded organizations still have a lot of work to do to meet the need.

Today, Edna has an amzing job working as a chef and recently signed a lease on a market-rate apartment near her restaurant. She is living her best life, the one she didn’t even have the courage to dream of a few years ago.

Over 200 people applied for the Mercy Housing apartment that Edna moved out of.