Mission First Housing Group


Resident Spotlight: Jamlyes Lugo

by Mission First Housing

“She’s done so much. It is unbelievable,” said Melissa Mascolo, Director of Program Management for Mission First Supportive Housing: Edison, when speaking of Jamyles Lugo.

Jamy, as she is known, is a 28-year-old single mother of four children aged 10, 9, 4 and 2 years old who resides at Imani Park, one of Mission First’s permanent supportive housing communities in Edison, NJ. She currently works full-time as an Insurance Account Manager at State Farm Insurance Companies.

Born in Puerto Rico, Jamy came to the United States in 2006 at 11 years old. Her mother arrived in the U.S. two years prior to set up life in Massachusetts and prepare to bring Jamy and her three siblings to America to provide them more opportunities and a better future.

Speaking very limited English entering the 6th grade, Jamy worked very hard to learn the language and by 7th grade she was fully acclimated into school. This drive to push herself out of her comfort zone to achieve success has continued through to her adulthood.

From 2009 to 2016, Jamy bounced back and forth from Massachusetts to New Jersey, never settling down, in an effort to avoid chronic domestic violence experiences and poor, unsafe living conditions. As a young mother, with her first two children in tow, Jamy continued to move around, living with family members and in shelters.

In June 2017, Jamy moved into Ozanam Homeless Shelter in Edison, NJ to settle down for eight months and figure out what was best for the three of them. She started working in insurance which helped pique her interest in that as a potential career. At the shelter, her case worker told her about Mission First Supportive Housing: Edison’s Amandla Crossing.

“At first, they offered a lot of resources for mental health, which I did not know I needed. I thought I was fine,” said Jamy. Just before Jamy moved into Amandla Crossing, she was connected to a therapist who helped her address many issues from her past.

As she reflects on the work she has done with her therapist, Jamy is happy that she prioritized her mental health. Meeting with her therapist twice a month has been incredibly beneficial to her, helping her to process of heal from the trauma of domestic violence and creating a future for her family. “My therapist is a huge part of my life. Mental Health is real.”

Jamy’s mental health is the foundation of her success with Mission First. Melissa connected Jamy with domestic violence resources, as well as helped her obtain vouchers for her security deposit, first month’s rent and furniture for her home when she moved in.

When Jamy gave birth to her son, her fourth child, she knew she needed a larger place for the baby and his three older sisters. She put in for a transfer to a 3-bedroom apartment at Mission First’s Imani Park just 6 miles away from Amandla Crossing. Melissa and the Property Management team worked with Jamy to apply for a new rental subsidy and transition to her new apartment.

Once she moved to Imani Park in 2022, she started budgeting her income to build savings.

“I did not know the money I was throwing away until I started budgeting. Budgeting opened my eyes to the fact that I can afford a house if I keep up my commission. I made it my goal.”

Jamy has been working on her budgeting, and by managing her spending and working harder to increase her commission she was able to take her children and her mother to Disney World last year – the trip of a lifetime that brought her immense joy and pride in what she did for her family. Her next goal is to save enough over the next year to buy a home in 2025.

“Once I saw what I could do, I started reaching out to Melissa about homebuyer and mortgage information. I started saving, budgeting, and doing more things on my own,” she said. “If I didn’t live here, I would not have Melissa and access to all of these resources.”

“Next year, I hope to be out of here in a house. I always knew I did not want this forever.” She wants to make her own decisions about paint colors and fix things in her own place. “The apartment is big, so if I had this in a house, it would be perfect.”

As a first step, Jamy attended a free First-time Homebuyers Workshop to discover where she was financially and what resources were available, as well as create a prospectus and plan to achieve her goal. They gave her ideas on what she needed to have set-up for buying a home. She was pre-approved for a mortgage and is working to build her credit and increase her savings.

Getting emotional, Jamy said “I really set myself up. I worked so hard and have been through so much and just seeing this year, my commission is the biggest I have ever had.”

Next month, she is meeting with Mission First’s partner Manasquan Bank for a one-on-one financial literacy and information session about mortgage products to start the process and prepare for next year.

Melissa said, “I have always looked at her as very focused and self-sufficient out of the gate, from the beginning. She is very open, a good self-advocate and able to identify the problem and work towards a resolution.”

She is also a great example to her children, who are watching her evolve as a mom and as a confident head of household. The skills she is learning and imparting to her family are invaluable.

“I sat with all of them, and I told them this is what I want. If you want this, to have a house and our own space, we need to cut down. I started showing them what we are spending. I am noticing that they are cutting back on asking for things.”

Jamy also envisions a future where she can give back to the community. Last year, she and a friend planned and fully-funded an Easter party for all of the residents at Imani Park in the community room. She is hoping to go back to school with the goal to be a social worker, with the inspiration from her mentor Melissa. She wants to create a nonprofit to support domestic violence survivors in shelters and those unhoused.

“I am really big on being independent,” said Jamy. “I want to know if I did this, it’s because I did it. I worked hard. I went through the struggles by myself.”

Melissa and the Mission First Supportive Housing: Edison team look forward to watching Jamyles and her family reach their goals and can’t wait to report back next year when she finds the home she is working towards.

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