Overcoming 45 Years of Homelessness

James B Story James has lived on the streets since he was 15 years old. He’s just about to turn 60. Three years ago, after more than 40 years of homelessness, James decided he wanted a home of his own. “I was tired of sleeping on the street or waking up in a shelter next to other homeless guys. I wanted to have my own place.” It wasn’t long after making this life-changing decision that he came to Disabled Resource Services (DRS) for peer mentoring and support as he navigated the lengthy housing and benefits process.

If you met James, you wouldn’t know that he has disabilities. As with many others, James’ disabilities are not visible – he has PTSD as a result of the incredibly hard life he’s lived, and complications from multiple heart attacks — but it is something he lives with every day. He has attempted suicide multiple times. The years of peer mentoring has kept James focused on his goals, provided moral support, and constantly reminded him of his reasons to live.

“I can’t believe I’ve got a home to go to,” he announced with a grin, showing off photos of the apartment he just moved into. “It’s the first time in 45 years that I actually stopped and fought for something I wanted.”

It’s clear that James is excited and grateful for his new life, but he admits that he still contemplates suicide even though he’s starting to adjust. “Every day I wake up and think of a reason not to do it [commit suicide].” James is welcome to use DRS’s free services for as long as he wants them. When asked what he’s thankful for, he writes: “Thank you for your support, friendship, and most of all for never giving up on me. Thanks for keeping me alive!!”

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