The Story of Chris

 

The frigid cold finally took its toll. Despite being homeless, Chris avoided staying in shelters. Instead, he slept outside near the Capitol, in abandoned buildings, or in the park. However, the winter of 2014 was the coldest weather he’d experienced, and it forced him to find warmth and respite.

When Chris arrived at the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless (IPH) Emergency Shelter for Code Blue, he didn’t realize that he’d be changing his life and inspiring a new program at IPH.

Due to the bitter cold, the dorms filled to capacity, but Chris and 12 others slept on the couches at the shelter. IPH worked tirelessly to develop a way to provide more. IPH’s Safe Haven was opened with cots, hot meals, staff, and case managers to assist Chris and other individuals from the streets of Albany who needed these services.

Safe Haven provided warmth and safety that this community needed. Although the first signs of spring were met with enthusiasm, the adversity of the winter still hung heavily. Chris approached staff to show his gratitude… “You guys saved my life this winter.”

Alcohol and drugs influenced Chris’ decisions and led to his homelessness. “I was scared when I started sleeping on the streets, but I didn’t know how to change things,” he admitted.

Winter came again the next year, and Chris was back at Safe Haven without hesitation. He was in the same situation and knew now that he had a safe place to go. The second season saw an overall increase in guests needing shelter, in large part, because Chris and previous guests were spreading the word. Friends had died on the streets in the cold, and Chris didn’t want anyone else to suffer.

At IPH, he met staff who were accepting and motivational. Chris visited the on-site nurse, talked with case managers, and started to see another possibility for his life. Staff guided Chris towards resources. After a second try at treatment, Chris is proudly one-year sober. After 4 years of homelessness, Chris has his own apartment. After years of unemployment, he works hard every day at his new job.

The 4 year journey together is far from over. Chris moved into IPH’s permanent, supportive housing this summer and works with his case manager on his goal to maintain his sobriety, job, and housing. He’s staying steady and grateful.

Healthier, clean, and stable, Chris looks and feels like a different person. “On the street, I was just trying to survive. I felt so hopeless. Now, I am happy where I am. I am proud. I never knew this was possible for me.”

Spark new possibilities with a donation to IPH’s Annual Fund.

Housing First

 

Our residents simply have no where else to live. They each work with case managers to develop their own paths, but they are finding success because they found housing. The Housing First approach gives residents the stability needed to continue to focus on their health, job, children, or other personal goals.

With a smile on his face and pride in his eyes, Michael showed off keys to his new apartment. Health issues were the final straw that led to homelessness for Michael. He underwent two surgeries before coming to IPH and a third surgery while a guest here. Knowing that he had a safe, comfortable place to return to upon discharge was a huge relief to Michael.

Case managers worked closely with medical and Veteran services to find housing for Michael, and this year, he moved into his own apartment.

The need for decent, affordable housing is increasing. There are currently not enough units available especially for chronically homeless individuals who do not have a rental history.

IPH’s investment in housing is also an investment in our guests and our community. Residents in IPH’s housing have a retention rate of 81% across all housing programs.

Over the years, IPH has expanded its housing to meet the community’s ever-growing need for quality, affordable, permanent housing. Beginning in 2009 with 10 units of housing, IPH currently owns 23 units of permanent housing with additional 16 scattered site housing vouchers and anticipates 15 more IPH housing units over the next two years.

By turning once-blighted properties into apartments and single room occupancy units, IPH continues to provide safe, supportive housing for the community’s most vulnerable residents while simultaneously revitalizing the Sheridan Hollow neighborhood.

 

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There are so many ways that you can help us help others.

Due to the intensely cold weather, IPH is opening Safe Haven beginning tonight. Looking for ways to help? Donation… https://t.co/bgp6URWmgm