"I used to be a regular person. Never been in trouble. Never done drugs. I moved from California to Illinois with the offer of a transfer from my fulltime job but I ended up being homeless. I had been living in Melrose Park in the basement of someone’s house. One day I fell and broke my arm. After I went to the hospital I could not pay for my rent because I had to stop working until it healed. My landlord locked the door to my apartment and I was put out on the street.
I used to help at my church and was really involved in my community. I would volunteer to help package food for needy people. When I became homeless it was really hard to ask for help. I did not want to tell my family and friends. Sometimes I rode the CTA blue line and tried to sleep. Sometimes I stayed on park benches and I remember one time a teenager in Oak Park woke me up early in the morning on his way to school and gave me a few dollars. I was so embarrassed by his kindness. That is when I knew I was truly in trouble. I never wanted anyone to guess I was homeless but I was so tired.
Finally I went to the church where I had volunteered and this time I asked for food. The manager asked me where I was going to sleep that night and I didn’t know. That’s when he told me about Housing Forward. I stayed in the PADS shelter for 6 months but it was still hard not knowing one day to another for sure if I could get in, where I was going to sleep or what to expect.
When I became a regular at the shelter I met a case manager and she told me they could help with housing. At the same time I got to know the nurse because I had a problem with my foot that would not heal. Betsy the clinic nurse was concerned I might have diabetes and she was right. After I was diagnosed she worked closely with me getting me connected to a doctor, reminding me of appointments and then following up about doctor’s orders. She also educated me about the disease and my medications. But I still had health issues and after one hospital stay I was put in a nursing home. I was really unhappy there but they wouldn’t release me without a home to go to. Chelsea my case manager at Housing Forward worked with me the whole time and when I was healthy again she helped get me into housing.
I have been in permanent supportive housing and managing my diabetes for several years. I love my place and now I qualify for SSDI benefits so I can work part time and manage my health better. I work for a cleaning company and they understand and encourage me to take care of myself.
I would not be in my own home right now and hopeful about life if it wasn’t for all the people who have helped me. I share my story as a way to thank them."