I became homeless on July 1st last year. But a week ago yesterday – I finally got a place to call home again. It’s subsidized community housing for homeless people with mental health issues – which means there is onsite staff to make sure the residents are ok & taking their medicine & going to therapy. I have a studio apartment all to myself. It’s in the Lower East Side close to East Village Access (EVA) the place where I go for group therapy. I’m still in shock that I ended up in a place this nice.
But it only happened because of the help I got from EVA and my Bellevue Home Health Coordinator. I’ve been very lucky to have so many dedicated professionals in my corner. That’s never happened before. (Sad to say but the people at my shelter were not so helpful.) And after seven and a half months wandering in the maze of the NYC system I understand now why some people give up.
Despite what you might think there are really only two kinds of homeless people – those who have given up hope of any real change and those who haven’t quite yet. If you don’t believe what the social workers tell you it does make sense that you wouldn’t want to put up with all the petty bs that goes with trying to work within the shelter system. Everyone who walks through the door already has a lot of issues and stress they are trying to deal with. (Not very well obviously.) But the shelters that are supposed to lift you up all too often seem designed instead to break you by piling it on even more.
I wish I could tell you what kept me from giving up when I saw others like me walk out the door. Hope is a tricky thing. You don’t always know where it comes from or how to hold onto to it. But by some miracle I’ve made it this far.
This is only the first step to getting my life in some kind of order. Now I’ve got to find the nerve to take the next one.
Wish me luck.