Those experiencing homelessness often live with a multitude of personal challenges, such as an unforeseen loss of a home or family member or adjusting to the material conditions of life on the street. Some may have histories of trauma, including sexual, psychological, or physical abuse which make the transition back to a life of permanent housing almost insurmountable. Breaking through the barrier of “wanting to get off the street,” is the most difficult and first step on their journey to permanent housing.
“Regardless of their history, I am here as a resource and judgment-free friend to help them get off the street when they are ready.” Says the Citrus Heights Navigator. “The best we can do for some of our community's unhoused that are caught up in addiction or interpersonal conflict is be ready and willing to help when they make the decision to try and get off the street. Everyone’s on a different path.”
Jeremy (left) was homeless and an addict for 5 years. He lost a child to a rare condition, and couldn't think of a way forward, so he turned to a fix and the street.
About 5 months ago his mother died - he hit rock bottom. Jeremy had no support system and not much to live for. “Once I recognized that everyone in my life was afraid of me, I knew I needed to get off the street.”
After 5 years of going to the Citrus Heights HART Winter Sanctuary, a local winter shelter program for the unhoused during the coldest months of the year and periodically communicating and neglecting the Navigator and HART Volunteers, Jeremy made the decision to enlist their help.
At the beginning of August 2021, Jeremy is 90 days sober and excelling in the Grace House recovery program.
Citrus Heights HART paid his rent on the recommendation from the navigator. - "Jeremy’s ready to get off the street."
For people like Jeremy, the willingness to accept help is the first and biggest step off the street. Now, it’s not always hitting rock bottom that prompts this change. Sometimes it comes in the form of a loss of a family member or a simple urge to take a shower and sleep in a bed. “Whatever it is,” says the navigator, “it is critical for us to be there ready to provide barrier-free support.”
Next up, Jeremy is taking the court-ordered appropriate steps to get back into the lives of his children and leads a homeless outreach ministry within his recovery program where he prepares and serves 50+ meals a week to the unhoused in Citrus Heights.