Change has come for Frank
After being homeless off and on since 1986, he is finally in a home of his own. “It’s a lovely feeling,” Frank said excitedly as he thinks about what it means to have a place to call home. He fondly remembers the day he was at St. James Park when a friend told him that Housing 1000 was looking for him. Frank quickly got in touch with us and in doing so, took the first steps to a whole new life. Prior to working with Housing 1000 Frank spent the last several decades on the streets including here in San Jose and on Skid Row. The peace he’s found in his small apartment is very different than the nights he spent on the VTA bus or sleeping in shelters. Even though the bus felt safe because he was sleeping “in public”, he would never get more than two to three hours of rest each night. Frank still recalls “the ugliest part about being homeless is when night falls. It turns into a whole other world. You just don’t feel safe.” Frank has survived great trials in life, from a girlfriend who was tragically killed to another who died of breast cancer in 2006. “Even as bad as it’s gotten for me, other people that have it much worse than I do.” Through it all, Frank remained hopeful that one day he would be back on his feet. Today, a home of his own means Frank can finally take care of his health. Now that he’s housed, Frank also hopes to continue working on his hip-hop music. He says he will do everything he can to become self-sufficient and stay in his new place. With a place of his own, his kids finally have a place to visit him and he can now entertain the thought of someday getting married again. For Frank, change has definitely come. Read more about Frank’s Story.
Richard’s ‘Revolving Door Life’ Is Stable in His New Apartment
Richard, 64, feels his life has been like a revolving door: in and out of foster care, jail, treatment programs and homeless shelters. Not anymore. After being homeless for more than twenty years, Richard moved into his own apartment in San Jose thanks to Housing 1000 and his resolve to turn his life around. “I knew I was getting old,” he said. “And I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in prisons or jail. But I didn’t know how I was going to do it. ”
Addicted at one time to alcohol and heroin, Richard has been drug and alcohol free since December 2010. The turning point was a treatment program he successfully completed at InnVision Shelter Network’s Julian Street Inn.
Now that he’s housed, Richard spends time keeping his apartment clean and riding his three-wheel bike around the neighborhood and to the grocery store. Richard once worked as a wrecking yard operator, but can no longer work because of a disability. With stable housing, he also can return to volunteering at the Montgomery Street Inn, where he serves meals to the shelter’s clients. “It’s a good feeling,” he said, “I love to help people.”
In this new chapter of his life, he would like to spend time learning more about science and history and developing computer skills. In his studio apartment, Richard has a bed, a lamp, a TV and an end table. But most of all, he says, “I have a roof over my head. I’m happy with it,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be?”
Housing Gives Martin a Chance to ‘Get My Life Back’
Martin, 50, knows that he made mistakes in his life. But until a month ago when he moved into his first apartment in 23 years, he couldn’t get too far beyond them. Now, his stable housing has given him the chance to plan for the future.
“I have a little peace of mind, where I can focus on my life,” he said. “When you’re out there on the street, you don’t think about your health. You think about survival.”
His goals now are to become mentally and physically healthy, get back to work and be a father to his adult children who he hasn’t seen since they were very young.
“I haven’t been a good father because of what I went through being homeless,” he said. “Without a family you can lean on, it’s difficult.”
The New Jersey native came to California in 1989 after he and his wife divorced and their daughter and two sons moved with her to Florida. He lost a job in 1990, and when his employment ran out, he became homeless. He worked even while living near creeks and in a National Guard armory. Martin always found a place to clean up and wear a shirt and tie to work.
“When I was homeless, I never looked homeless,” he said.
Drug use and related crimes landed Martin in jail and a rehabilitation program. He was then able to work as a limo driver and also for a moving company. But a relapse in 2010 sent him back to jail. After being released, “I had nowhere to go,” he said.
With the help of Housing 1000, Martin is also getting treatment for a mental condition and coping with arthritis in his back and legs. He has been clean and sober for two years. Martin is hoping to work with a record-clearing program to get a felony on his criminal record expunged so he can have a better chance to get a job. He has experience and training in technology communications.
“This is a time to get my life back,” he said. “I think things are going to very good for me. Something is out there. I just need to find it.
Mario’s New Home Offers Him a Place to Heal
Recovering from a work-related back injury for Mario, 46, hasn’t been easy. The first 10 days after surgery were spent at the EHC Lifebuilders shelter and in the front seat of his truck. He knew he needed a roof over his head as soon as possible.
“For me to be sleeping in the streets or in my car, I wasn’t going to heal right,” he said.
Barely able to walk, Mario said it was a struggle to find a one–bedroom apartment. With the help of Housing 1000 he was able to find permanent supportive housing and was able to move in quickly. Now he’s getting stronger, can begin physical therapy and better manage his diabetes.
Mario was injured while working as a fumigator at the Port of Oakland. He got laid off and his injury prevented from getting another. He ran out of money and lost his apartment. To make things worse, he discovered someone had broken into his storage locker and stolen everything he owned.
Worker’s Compensation helped him with medical bills, and Housing 1000 helped provide his apartment and furnishings. A few decorative touches from a thrift store have made it his home.
Mario is looking forward to getting healthy so he can work again. He’d like to start his own wholesale/retail business and is grateful for having a place that his son, a U.S. Army soldier, can come visit.
“With the grace of God and EHC, I’m getting back on my feet,” he said.
"Sleeping in a real bed feels like heaven."
Leonard had been living on the streets since 1981. He has stayed in shelters and in a sleeping bag along the Guadalupe River. The first thing Lenny did when he walked into his new apartment was to turn on the faucet and get a drink of water.
“It was my toast,” he said.
The simple act that most people take for granted was Lenny’s toast to a roof over his head and a chance to move forward with life. “It’s wonderful,” he said. “I can’t describe the joy. Sleeping in a real bed also felt like heaven.”
Lenny, 60, is coping with arthritis in his joints as well as cataracts and back and kidney problems. He’s getting treatment at Valley Homeless Health Care Clinic and is grateful for stable housing thanks to Housing 1000 that will allow him to heal and get stronger so he can work.
Lenny’s faith in God has sustained him throughout the years. He calls himself a “spiritual warrior.” He strongly believes that “God created the universe for us to enjoy the beautiful things He has created. And so that we can help each other.”
He started writing poetry at age 14 and never stopped. “It was a release for me,” he said. Now that he’s housed, Lenny said he is “feeling his space” and is blessed with the ability to cook a meal, listen to music and write poetry that comes from the heart. “When you’re lifted out of something,” he said, “you can look down on where you’ve been.”
Richard's in a home of his own!
Richard is now living in a studio apartment of his own in San Jose. With the help of Housing 1000, he moved into his own home last week. The Housing 1000 team even installed hand railings throughout his home so he has full access to every corner of his new place.
Richard is very excited to have this place of his own. His only request when searching for a place was to have a bath tub to soak in - a dream that the Housing 1000 team was able to help make a reality.
He is extremely grateful for his furniture and for all of the help he received from Housing 1000 and our community that helped him start this new phase of his life.
Richard went on a grocery shopping trip with his case manager last week. For the first time in many years he has a refrigerator to keep his food cold. He spends his afternoons reading and playing cards and assimilating into his new environment.
Most importantly, Richard's case manager has connected him to critical medical services and Richard has gone from being unable to move from his soiled wheelchair to being able to stand and walk on his own for short periods of time. Now that he's connected to primary care, he can get the physical therapy he needs to continue his recovery.
We are all celebrating the end of Richard's homelessness and thank our Housing 1000 community for the generous donations that made his house into a home.
New Home Reunites Grandmother with Daughters, Grandson
For two decades, Jennifer, 42, lived on the streets in areas of Alameda and Santa Clara County. She sometimes took refuge in shelters.
But 20 years of homelessness ended at the end of April 2012 when she moved into an apartment where she could sleep in her own bed and cook meals in a well-equipped kitchen. But that’s not the best part of having a home.
The best part is “to be with my grandson anytime I want.”
For Jennifer, housing means she can be reunited with her adult daughters, 19 and 20, and her 2-year-old grandson. Having her family under one roof means she can care for her grandson while her daughters work and go to school.
The Oakland, California, native’s life spiraled downward after she was a victim of domestic violence and a substance abuser. Both situations contributed to her becoming homeless.
Jennifer is challenged by a mental health diagnosis and has been hospitalized a few times. But her strong belief in her family helped her cope during her darkest times.
Now her focus can be on rebuilding her family and watching her grandson grow up.
Burt is now housed!
Burt is 61 years old and was homeless for over 25 years until February 2012. His homelessness
first started when he was laid off in 1974 by General Motors back in Michigan. Left with no other
option but to leave his home state to look for work, Burt ended up working from labor pools and
eventually found his way to the Bay Area. Despite having nowhere to go at night, Burt is very
proud of always having worked. Now that he's housed Burt's enjoying being able to leave his
possessions at home, knowing they will be safe. There's one possession though that he's not
worried about keeping. Burt plans on giving away his bike to someone who needs it more than
he does. Congratulations Burt!
Frank is housed!
Before moving in to his new apartment, Frank had spend the past couple of years living under the Guadalupe Parkway in an encampment. Housing 1000 changed Frank’s life. After participating in the Housing 1000 survey, Frank found he was at the top of the registry list and was quickly offered help through EHC LifeBuilders and New Directions. With the support of Housing 1000 and the Housing ONE donor community, Frank moved into his own home this month and he tells us that he’s never felt better.
Frank says that one of the best things about having his own place is that he finally gets to sleep without being interrupted. Frank can now eat when he’s hungry because he has his own fridge – something folks who live outside struggle with on a daily basis. He tells us that the absolute best thing about having a real place to live is the comfort. Besides having a bathroom only twenty steps away and clean water to drink, Frank finally feels secure because he has a door that he can lock, giving him much needed peace of mind. He looks forward to seeing his social worker and has more confidence in his own abilities.
Frank visited the hospital several times in the past year, and it was doubtful that he would have survived another cold and wet winter outside. Now that the people who want to help him can always find him, Frank is receiving better health care and services and isn't getting sick so often.
Emotionally, being housed is helping Frank trust others and be more patient. Frank wants to let other homeless people know that Housing 1000 isn’t the same old story — we are ending homelessness!