PORTRAITS OF CHANGE
In 2014, a concerned neighbor introduced Debbie to North Beach Citizens. They had met at a local grocery store, where Debbie had shared that she had been homeless due to domestic violence and medical issues. By then, she had been homeless for three years.
As a domestic violence survivor, Debbie suffered physically, mentally, and socially. She had nowhere to go, and desperately needed stable housing so she could focus on addressing her medical issues. For years, Debbie had been managing diabetes and kidney disease, which were exacerbated by the stressors of homelessness.
After creating a mutually agreed upon action plan, North Beach Citizens provided her with temporary housing. We helped her apply for General Assistance, enroll in Medi-Cal, initiate the process for Social Security Disability Income, and apply for permanent housing.
Now, Debbie lives in permanent, affordable housing and has stabilized her health issues.
As a former Marine, Adam suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and other medical conditions. Like so many other veterans, he could not connect with his veteran benefits. When he came to North Beach Citizens, he desperately needed counseling and stable housing to manage his medical conditions and rebuild his life.
Adam wasn't alone on the streets: he lived with his dog, Tyrell. He knew he needed housing, but had refused previous offers as they did not allow pets. From the beginning, Tyrell provided him with unwavering friendship and security. Adam couldn't accept housing if it meant leaving his companion behind.
NBC's first step in supporting Adam's recovery was helping him connect with the community and build trust. His case manager worked with him to develop a flexible plan that worked at his pace. Together they were able to identify the resources available to him and a strategy for accessing them.
Adam's transition out of homelessness happened faster than most. His case manager helped him apply for food stamps, government assistance, as well as social security, and accompanied him to his appointments. After establishing a mutual relationship of trust, Adam and Tyrell entered our housing stabilization program. Meanwhile, his case manager initiated the application process for housing and within six months he obtained permanent, affordable housing. Once housed, Adam was finally able to address his medical and mental health needs.
Today, Adam is receiving SSI benefits, and is enjoying a newfound confidence. Tyrell has been by Adam's side the entire time, winning over the hearts of clients, case managers and board members. NBC was able to help Tyrell as well. Now all of his vaccinations are up to date, and he is a certified medical support dog.
With over 17 years of experience in hospitality and management, Richard came to San Francisco to start a new life. However, he was unable to secure employment. Within a short amount of time Richard lost his wallet and had no home to call his own.
Instead of living the life he had dreamed, he was scrounging for cans to recycle and living with less than five dollars a day. Feeling lost and confused, Richard stumbled upon someone who directed him to North Beach Citizens where he met Kristie.
That same month, he enrolled in NBC'S C.O.R.E. program. He was provided with advocates to help guide him through government social service networks, assistance with his resume and most importantly, a sense of community. Richard was placed in temporary housing. By July 2014, he had signed a lease for permanent affordable housing.
He is now gainfully employed and volunteers extensively at North Beach Citizens and other nonprofits. He is also attending San Francisco City Community College with the hopes of helping others.
Four years ago the gardener at Washington Square Park introduced us to Larry. At that time Larry, a 72 year old retired electrical engineer, was homeless and sleeping on a local park bench. He was struggling with a substance abuse problem that was made worse by the hardships of living on the streets. Through a concerted team effort, we created a plan that would empower Larry to reclaim his life. This September, he signed a lease for permanent, affordable housing.
When he enrolled in our CORE Program, we created an individualized action plan, which included obtaining documentation needed to apply for housing. At our resource center, Larry was able to gain access to a telephone, nutritional meals, a clothing library, hygiene kits, and a mailing address. Our staff served as his advocate to find housing. We provided Larry with a safe place to sleep through our Emergency Interim-Housing Program while he worked towards securing a permanent lease.
During this process, Larry became part of the community at North Beach Citizens. The network he built with other clients became one of his most crucial sources of support during his times of struggle. Today, Larry uses his personal experiences to mentor new clients who are also motivated to change their lives.