Erica Azimov began working in November as the WCCS Rapid Rehousing Case Manager. The Rapid Rehousing program focuses on finding permanent housing for homeless families and individual in the lower Russia River area.
Erica holds a Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly and worked as a graphic designer until she was laid off during the 2008–2009 recession.
Unemployed with no jobs on the horizon, Erica realized how closely she herself came to homeless had it not been for the help of her mother and her entrepreneurial skills that allowed her to start an online business. “So many people don’t have the support I did. I feel so grateful to have been able to get through that period of my life mostly unscathed.” The experience gave her a much better understanding of the plight of low-income families in our society and it also began her pursuit of a career in social services.
Erica began her transition into social services by volunteering as a Sexual Assault Advocate and Crisis Counselor at the rape crisis center in Santa Rosa. She was soon hired on as their Communications Coordinator and was later promoted to Crisis Intervention Manager. In her job, Erica provided support and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault and their families.
After 3 ½ years at the rape crisis center, Erica decided to branch out into other areas of social services including working at Catholic Charities, Face to Face, and Enriching Lives. These organizations helped her to obtain more experience working as a case manager, as well as assisting individuals and families who are struggling with homelessness.
Erica is passionate about working with the homeless population and understands that housing individuals and families is not just about putting a roof over their head. “It’s like this: we’re going to help you find housing and we also have to talk about budgeting, credit scores, rental history, income, support systems and everything that goes with it. We want our clients to be able to sustain their housing permanently. It’s a whole picture and involves working with individuals that each have their own set of needs. So together we create a plan to help meet those needs. And for those challenges outside of our scope, I refer them to other organizations that can better assist them. So, for example, if food stamps aren’t enough, I would give clients a list of organizations that have free local food days. If client’s need help paying for their energy bill each month, I would refer them to the CARE program. It’s not just focusing on housing, but what that individual or family need to get housing and sustain it.
Beginning her sixth week on the job, Erica has already helped seven individuals find or remain housed. With this new RRH program, WCCS is hoping to assist many more individuals and families in the lower Russian River area with their housing needs.