It was a day he won’t soon forget. “This is a revolutionary day for me,” Charles said. “My homelessness is over. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears getting here.”
Prior to being housed Charles spent many nights on the porch of a building adjacent to Phoenix Health Center. “That’s not right, it’s dehumanizing,” he said. “This is the greatest country in the world. Just get me off the streets and I’ll take it from there. I don’t need a hand out, just a hand up. There are a lot of good men out here that are just stuck.”
The process of becoming eligible for supported housing can be long and frustrating. It often begins with an eligibility assessment after which the individual receives a score which can determine how quickly he’s placed in housing.
Charles completed the assessment and was told he qualified to receive housing. But his patience was tested as he witnessed other people he knew get housing.
“I was about to leave town,” said Charles. “Several friends of mine got housing and yet I was still homeless. It left a bad taste in my mouth for Louisville, and even St. John Center. I was so frustrated.”
“Charles struggled, like so many others, with feeling frustrated at the bureaucracy surrounding housing assistance and the delay he had to endure before receiving help,” explained Tom Parmenter, the St. John Center housing case manager assigned to Charles. “Dealing with despair about not receiving help in a timely manner is a very common experience for those people battling homelessness. I think a good part of our work here is helping combat that sense of despair.”
With Tom in his corner, Charles was soon feeling better about St. John Center. “You all do good work here,” he said. “You all think you’re just coming to work, but you really save lives.”
Having a place of his own has eased Charles’ mind. “I get uninterrupted rest, have peace of mind, and feel safe now,” he said. “When you sleep outside people can walk up on you in the middle of the night and you never know what is in their mind.”
According to Tom, Charles has long had a good work ethic and a variety of skills that should bode well for his future. “I have known him to work at several different jobs, but he was having trouble holding onto them due to difficulties with showing up punctually due to challenges he was facing staying on the street,” said Tom. “With his many job skills Charles should be able to find work that he will be able to hold onto now that he has a consistent living arrangement.”
Charles’ next victory would be to put his forklift and cherry picker skills to work in a warehouse.