November is Homeless Awareness Month – Bridge to Home Success Story
When his relationship ended, Greg began a cycle of distrust. He had a hard time trusting other people, and he wasn’t sure he trusted himself to garner any hope for his future.
After going through this breakup in the mid-90s, Greg was left without a partner and without a home. He had to navigate life on his own, but was often without sure footing or a place to stay. He occasionally found himself a hotel to stay in for the night—a chance to regroup, recharge, refresh. But a spotty income meant he had no dependable way of paying for another night in a hotel, much less to pay for a place of his own, where he could regularly afford rent.
For more than two decades, this continued—Greg would nearly get on his feet, but would inevitably end up back on the street. Without a partner or any family to depend on in California, he was facing this crisis on his own.
Every day was a gamble, and Greg couldn’t tell what might differentiate a good day from a bad one. He continued to fall in and out of homelessness, each time losing confidence in himself and in the system that was supposed to catch him when he fell.
Finally, after a long time without a paycheck, Greg gathered his confidence and his grit to find a job as a machinist. At last, he had an income—but after so many years fending for himself, he still couldn’t imagine what it might be like to have a home.
Greg began staying at Bridge to Home’s Winter Shelter in 2016. It was just a place to get a meal and lay his head before another day. Right when he started to become comfortable, the shelter closed in the spring and he felt the sting of loss again. Like his relationship or his hotel stays, it appeared that all things came to an end, and he was forced to leave.
Each year, Greg would return to the Winter Shelter—but with his guard still up, he refused further help. He didn’t trust his case manager to find him a permanent place, so he continued to stay at the temporary shelter. Without a phone or a dependable mode of transportation, Bridge to Home’s staff could only connect with Greg on rare occasions—and by the time they started to break down his walls, it was spring, the shelter closed, and he was gone.
But at last, after years of constant change and uncertainty, Greg found his sure footing. When Bridge to Home received funding this year to keep the temporary shelter open year-round, it gave Greg the reassurance he craved that something—and someone—would be there for him. He started to trust his case manager, who encouraged Greg to enroll in the housing navigation program in spring of 2019. Even a year prior, this would have been the time of year he prepared to head back on the street.
At the beginning of August, Greg packed his bags—and instead of going to a shelter, a hotel, or the street—he went to his new home. With a steady income, he’s able to pay his own rent, allowing him to take ownership over his space, where he can stay as long as he likes. With his own job and a key to his own room, Greg has regained trust in himself and in other people. At 58-years-old, he’s glad he finally accepted help. Now this winter, Greg won’t have to gather his belongings to go anywhere. He knows he doesn’t have to make his way to the shelter. He’ll already be home.
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