“I was six-years-old the first time I became homeless. Out of the last 21 years, I’ve been living on the streets for at least 10 or 12 of them.”
At age 12, I started taking care of my little sister. Our mom used to leave us alone sometimes and wouldn’t come back until the next day. We never understood why we couldn’t always have a home. We just knew that other people would act funny towards us. They’d be mean and treat us different than they’d treat their kids.
Over the years, when I wanted my family to be there for me, they didn’t want to help. They kept telling me to go to my mom, but she can barely help herself. Then I found OSH. I went to the shelter lottery. I was the last person called, but I was the first person on the waitlist. I only had to wait two days.
OSH is what helped me complete a lot of things, especially with my health. I have epilepsy, a seizure disorder. It’s the reason I can’t work and can’t pay rent. When I told them about my condition, I was able to see the doctor at OSH without having to wait. To see my other doctor, I’d have to wait three to six months. I want to be able to get better. I want to live my life like a normal person. But it’s scary. I have a family member who passed away from the condition that I have.
On June 1, I moved out of shelter into my own apartment through the Permanent Supportive Housing Program. This was huge for me. Now I can get the surgery I need. They’re going to take a piece of my brain out, and I’m really going to need help with recovery from the people at OSH. I know I’m not going to have family visiting me.
Having my own place means so much in little ways too – being able to come and go as I please and waking up at a good time instead of 6am. Basically, just having a home is the most exciting thing. I really don’t have to worry about going back on the streets.
In the future, I hope I can go back to school. I wasn’t able to do that when I didn’t even know where I was going to sleep at night. Before my health stuff started, I graduated high school with a 3.9gpa and started college but dropped out to help my mom with rent. This is my chance to just redo everything. I studied music before, but now I might do something totally different like science or carpentry.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from being homeless, it’s that you have to be strong. I see a lot of people who are just out there holding signs – maybe even old veterans, people who fought for this country – and I see a lot of people getting mad at them. OSH was there for me when nobody else was. They helped me stand on two feet. That’s what I want to be able to do for someone else. Because when you help somebody out, that’s when you get helped out too.