Tyrica Duff came to Independence Place in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, in June 2011 after hearing about the new housing community while residing in a women’s shelter. Tyrica had been living on her own since the age of 17.
“Life before living here was sort of a blur,” she said. “I grew up in a very competitive environment and I was sort of consumed by being competitive. I didn’t have a stable home and I was moving very, very fast.”
Knowing little about the housing community and its developer, YWCA, Tyrica soon grew to love the housing community.
“I absolutely love my living situation now,” she said. “My room here is symbolic because it means solitude.”
Independence Place is a 23-unit permanent supportive housing community located on the renovated second floor of the Cleveland YWCA. The property houses women who are homeless, aged out of the foster care system, or recovering from mental illness or chemical dependency. To help fund the community, OHFA provided $1,500,000 from the Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP), $1,192,871 from the Housing Development Assistance Program (HDAP) and $332,658 in Housing Tax Credits annually for ten years.
The community includes on-site supportive services including case management, career development and classes in parenting and independent living skills through the YWCA’s Nurturing Independence & Aspirations (NIA) program.
“I’m an aspiring journalist and I’ve learned that this is a great opportunity to become career-oriented,” she said. “Before I didn’t even consider going back to college but now that I’ve been living here, I want to go back. So any type of career opportunity that is provided I try to take full advantage.”
She said she is inspired by all of the positive influences she is surrounded by daily, including the YWCA’s CEO Margaret Mitchell and the Director of the NIA program, Penny Dixon.
“You get to meet so many powerful women here, people that you wouldn’t normally get to meet if you didn’t live here,” she said.
Tyrica has channeled her love of journalism and writing into producing a newsletter for Independence Place residents. Called “The Value,” the newsletter is based off of author Iyanla Vanzant’s The Value in the Valley: A Black Woman’s Guide Through Life’s Dilemmas.
“I named the newsletter “The Value” because Vanzant explains in the book that dark experiences or moments in our lives that we resist, there’s a purpose in going through the experience,” she said. “I called it “The Value” because there’s a purpose in living here. Every day can be a struggle but you have to remind yourself that you’re getting something out of it even though you may not be able to picture it at the moment.”
With all of the opportunities provided through Independence Place, Tyrica said she can’t thank the staff enough for giving her a chance to slow down and gain perspective on her life.
 “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So at the end of the day, my reflection is always gratitude.”