Housing client tells her story and uses art as a form of self-expression

Posted on Nov 15, 2019

Blanche Hartman is a local artist and housing client with Fresno EOC Sanctuary Housing Program. It’s been almost a year since she’s moved into an apartment after being homeless on and off for years prior. Now living on her own, Blanche enjoys sharing pieces of her life through art and creative avenues.

“Before this I didn’t have a place to stay and now even having my own room is a big step,” she said. “I feel blessed everything came together. I’m actually able to have furniture like tables and couches.”

For Blanche being homeless was never a choice. With a close family member addicted to gambling, Blanche and her siblings were forced to move out of their home when she was 12 years old. For five years, the family stayed with relatives and friends until Blanche moved in with her partner at the time.

“It was hard as a teenager,” she said. “I didn't want my friends coming over. We were too poor to afford nice clothing, but when you’re growing up you want to impress your friends and you worry about what other people think.”

In her youth and then as an adult, Blanche moved often. She went from Texas to Arizona and eventually made her way back to Fresno. In 2013, Blanche was introduced to Fresno EOC staff through the Transitional Living Center, now known as Sanctuary Transitional Shelter. This is an overnight shelter and daytime drop-in center for homeless or otherwise displaced youth and young adults. While there, Blanche met staff she remains in contact with through Sanctuary Housing Program.

“There are places to help you,” she said. “My case manager at Fresno EOC always checks in on me to make sure I have food, a bus pass and that I’m doing okay. She’s become a mentor to me and all the staff are greatly appreciated.”

This year Blanche has been able to focus more on her creative passions. She’s participated in community paint nights at Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center and showcased artwork during Fresno Art Hop events. Ever since Blanche was a child she remembers creating books and drawing portraits.

“I like drawing psychedelic art based on my own experiences,” she said. “I draw what I see and everyone sees something different when they look at my art.”

As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Blanche looks forward to being more involved with the LGBTQ+ Resource Center and remains a friendly face at agency events. Her story serves as an inspiration for everyone she meets.

Learn more about Fresno EOC Housing Programs