Nathalie’s life changed seemingly overnight. Originally from Puerto Rico, Nathalie spent time in Texas before coming to New York with her three younger brothers. When they each passed away within the span of a few years, she found herself with no choice but to enter the New York City shelter system – with a significant amount of trauma in her wake.

Nathalie found that the city shelters came with their own share of traumatic experiences. She was forced to give up her two beloved chihuahuas for two months. Nathalie was also the victim of terrible prejudice – as a transgender woman, she experienced extreme transphobia and discrimination. But even then, Nathalie’s strength came through: “I know my rights. I am an activist. I started [connecting with] my community.”

In January of 2021, Nathalie was referred to Urban Pathways’ residence at Hallet’s Cove, where she no longer feels discriminated against, saying “The staff, they [believe in] equality. I love everybody here like my family.” Best of all, Nathalie is able to keep her two dogs with her in her private studio apartment. “Here, I thank God, me and my two dogs, we are okay.”

Nathalie came to Hallet’s Cove with a purpose: to find her way to independent housing. Pierina Demorizi, Program Director at Hallet’s Cove, says that “When Nathalie was first interviewed to come to Hallet’s Cove, she came in with a very strong intention: I need to get my life together, I want to get an apartment, I want to work on my goal right away.”

Due to Nathalie’s ambition and the hard work of Urban Pathways’ staff, Nathalie has been approved for her section 8 voucher.

“Now I can go look for an apartment; I am happy because I know I can start my life again.”

Nathalie has big dreams for the future: she is a fashion designer and is inspired by the work and life stories of Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld. She is currently designing for a film project with a network of fellow transgender individuals from cities across the country. Their goal in the next few years is to produce a project staffed entirely by transgender people.

With the help of Urban Pathways, Nathalie will now start the process of finding an apartment where she feels safe, and where she (and her dogs) can thrive. “When I get my apartment, my life [will] change again – for good.”

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