The story of one man’s journey through Good Sam’s Housing Programs.
Journeys through homelessness aren’t always what you’d expect. Often times it’s one unfortunate circumstance that leads to a downward spiral. The loss of a job, a sick child, or an accident in the workplace. Sometimes it’s as simple as broken relationships. Often times we see these situations from the outside and find it hard to empathize.
As Steven says, “You feel bad for that guy, but one day you find it’s you.”
Steven came to Good Samaritan Services a few years ago after a dramatic upheaval of living arrangements. For months he was living with a friend, splitting bills and paying his roommate directly for rent and utilities as many individuals often do. Suddenly, on a cold night in December, Steven was notified that law enforcement was at his home and he was no longer allowed to live there. It turns out that his roommate had misused Steven’s rent and utility payments. The apartment he had been staying in had not been paid for in over 4 months. And without warning, Steven had no home.
Still maintaining employment, Steven was able to rent a hotel room for an extended period of time, but it didn’t take long for those bills to rack up. Hotels are expensive! With his expenses quickly outpacing his income, he needed to find an alternative. After a few weeks of helping Steve as much as she could, his mother told him to call Good Sam. We’re so glad he did.
Our Resource Specialist was able to get Steve into one of our Emergency shelters immediately. It turned out he knew his case manager from earlier in his life! This made Steven feel safe. Once he met the rest of the staff, he was even more at ease. After just a few weeks, Steven was able to save up enough money to move into our Transitional Housing Program. There was an opening, and Steven was eager to take it!
Residential Housing (Transitional)
In our Transitional Housing program, Steven felt himself stretch and grow. When Steven joined us, he did not have his driver’s license and his credit was in poor shape. Good Sam was able to come alongside him with resources such as our Case Management and Microloan program to help him back to stability. He worked diligently with his caseworker to get his license back, and is currently a legal driver! He also took advantage of our Matched Savings program, saving $600.00 in just a few months. We were then able to match that, making it $1,200 in total!
He was very consistent with his program fees and was clean and efficient. We loved having him in our program, and because of his diligence and work ethic, we offered him a job as House Manager. While this was exactly what Steven had in mind for his future, he was excited about the opportunity. He accepted the position and continued to work his other full-time job!
Creating relationships with the other men in the house was challenging, but he found it all worthwhile. He constantly reminded himself and frequently told his fellow participants: “I’m no better than you, and I don’t want you all to think that. We’re all equal in here.” It was a time of learning humility in the midst of leadership.
Residential Housing (Affordable)
After just a little over a year in a transitional housing unit, Steven was able to move on to our affordable housing unit. There he had his own room, more privacy, and only a few roommates. Our affordable housing is just a stepping stone to independent living. “It was a good feeling of freedom,” Steve said. He felt accomplished with his license back, and steady with his savings account. The next step was getting a reliable vehicle. This is where he took advantage of our Microloan program. Not only did Steve build his credit up, but he also purchased a great vehicle to get him to his place of employment. Talk about some personal success!
Housing Support Services
Having a reliable car and stable income, Steven was ready to move on from our Residental Housing to his own independent living situation. The only struggle was finding the giant payment of a security deposit, on top of first and last month’s rent. We were able to set Steve up with our Family Resource Coordinators (FRCs) at our Housing Support Services office in Coatesville. With a little of their help, additional budget planning, and some rental assistance, Steve was able to get into his own apartment! Good Sam helped with the initial rental fees, and Steve has been paying on his own (IN FULL!) ever since.
Not only is Steve in his own apartment, as of early this month he paid off his microloan! His credit score has increased over 200 points, and Steve is thriving on his own. “ I love the freedom that comes with being in an independent living situation,” he said. He works full time as a maintenance technician at a hotel in addition to holding another full-time job. In addition to working, he coaches track for one of his daughters’ high school. Steve stays busy, and he likes it that way. He still connects with our FRCs every now and again, but Steve is living a stable and independent life, and we couldn’t be prouder.
Here is what Steve has to say about Good Sam:
“It’s a great program. If you’re willing for them to help you then let ‘em help you. Without you letting them help, you won’t get help. A lot of men’s pride gets in the way, but they need help and I tell them to let them [Good Sam] help you better yourself. You want that good job. You want your own place. Ask for help, and they [Good Sam] will give it to you.”