Carandus tells his personal story about overcoming the challenges of growing up, his difficulty with reading, and encourages others that no matter the adversity or stereotypes faced, one can overcome them.

Who better knows the struggles that RHA residents are going through than former a resident? When it feels like there is no hope and when ‘something’ better is not attainable, it takes someone to say, “Look, I’ve been in your shoes, you can do this.”

Overcoming Adversity from Rockford Housing Authority on Vimeo.

Meet Carandus Brown. He grew up in Fairgrounds, in a single parent household. His mom was always working so they could get out of Fairgrounds. In the days when she wasn’t around or couldn’t feed him, his neighbors took care of him. Carandus grew up experiencing gang violence and street violence. This manifested into him participating in some undesirable activities. Because he lacked a support system his grades dwindled to F’s. Eventually he dropped out of high school and before he knew it he was about to become a father.

For Carandus, this is when he knew he had to change his life and his behavior. He knew he didn’t want his child to grow up the way he did. Until Carandus decided to go back to school he kept it hidden that he was unable to read and write. Learning to read and write become the starting point for him build a new self. At 21, he went back to school to get his GED and eventually to college to achieve two Bachelor degrees. He set out to challenge the community stereotypes of just becoming a “gangbanger,” a “street-person” and as he and others in public housing are often judged, a “nothing.”


“So when I went back to school, I got my old documents and posted them up in my room to show myself that back then I was lazy and I chose to look at them every day to push myself forward,” recalled Carandus, “you have to put your adversity right in front of you and say okay this is what I am going to overcome.”

Carandus Brown overcame his hardships and is now giving back to his community as a Resident Support Specialist for the Rockford Housing Authority. Carandus is I Am Rockford.


“Carandus is an example of recognizing and embracing the power individuals have to overcome adversity. His life experiences have made him the man he is today. I am proud to work alongside Carandus as he uses his experiences and emotional intelligence to guide others to finding their own power.” Ron Clewer, CEO Rockford Housing Authority.