Jeff shouldn’t be alive today. Over a decade ago he was brutally assaulted and robbed. As a result, he sustained brain damage, and, eventually, became homeless. Life became a downward spiral of deterio- rating health, drugs and alcohol. Jeff would end up in emergency several times a week because of his brain damage, he would lose his balance and fall hurting himself badly; he had open sores on his legs; he had scabies and lice. And he would regularly overdose. Because of his level of intoxication, Jeff was considered high risk in the shelter he stayed at. Jeff’s life didn’t seem worth living; he often talked about suicide.
Last fall Jeff moved in to permanent supportive housing. He has a team of support workers who’ve helped him make this major transition. Together, they picked out second hand furniture for his apartment, including a huge picture of 2 eagles, which Jeff loves. Together, they go shopping for groceries, helping Jeff understand how to eke out the money he has until the end of the month. Every day someone pays him a visit to chat about how things are going. Jeff’s bathing regularly, washing his clothes, figuring out daily living.
Most importantly Jeff’s health is improving. He and his support worker chose shoes with ankle support to keep him steady on his feet. He visits his doctor every 2 weeks. He’s no longer using intravenous drugs. His drinking has decreased. His mental health has improved dramatically. Jeff has learnt how to smile. He feels part of a community that cares, where the residents share what they have and watch out for each other; where the support workers are there night and day if he faces a crisis.
Jeff no longer visits emergency. He’s not even hanging out at his old haunts downtown. What does Jeff like most about his new home? His best friend in the world lives just 2 blocks away like Jeff successfully building a new life off the streets.