Last summer, we announced a big change at Our Saviour’s Housing. After careful deliberation and assessment of community needs, we started to shift our Transitional Housing Program to serve women only, prioritizing women who have experienced domestic violence.
This change is now complete, and we’re gratified to see women settling into their new home. But you might ask – what happened to the men who were in the program? To begin this next chapter, we were committed to closing out the previous one well. This meant ensuring that each of the ten men in what was our men’s house departed to stable housing. Kevin was the last man to leave. This is his story.
Nearly four years ago, Kevin’s sister and mother were packed and ready to move from the Twin Cities to Arizona. Kevin’s step-father had recently passed, and his sister had stage four stomach cancer. Arizona offered a better climate for his sister, and his mother decided to join her. However, they never made it there. On the day of their departure, Kevin’s sister suddenly passed. He then became the primary caregiver for his mother, who had lung disease.
Kevin cared for his mother for two-and-a-half years, during which he had no other employment. He explains that she couldn’t even go to the bathroom without having to stop to rest several times. Thankfully, the state paid him for his care, and he was able to support himself and his mother. However, she spent the last three months of her life in the hospital, which meant no income coming in. Kevin’s mother passed in December 2016. On top of dealing with this loss, Kevin had no money and no job. He lost the apartment where they lived and became homeless.
With nowhere to go, Kevin slept in his car for a few weeks because he was, “just too proud to ask for help.” Asking for help has never come easy for Kevin. From an early age, he learned to be self-reliant. He says, “Mom was kind of an absent mother. She was eleven when she had my sister. She was a baby herself. So I’ve always done things on my own. If I can’t get it myself, then I don’t need it.” Fortunately, someone at a community center encouraged him to go to Our Saviour’s. He stayed at the shelter for three months before entering the Transitional Housing Program.
Once in transitional housing, Kevin spent most of his time trying to get a new state ID so he could search for a job. He’d lost his at some point while he was caring for a his mother. He also didn’t have a social security card. The process for obtaining replacements was especially complicated because Kevin had undergone a legal name change. It took four months just to get his birth certificate from out of state and twice that for his ID. He says he doesn’t even want to think about how things would have gone without the help of Our Saviour’s. “It took most of a year to get my license with help. I probably wouldn’t even be close to having a license to be able to work.”
As it turns out, Kevin ended up with both at the same time – his license and work. The same day he received his license, he was offered at least a temporary job with Our Saviour’s. The English Learning Center was in immediate need of a new custodian, and Kevin had already spent time volunteering around the property while he waited for his license. He was an obvious choice. Jenne, the ELC Program Director, is quick to note Kevin’s contributions, stating, “Kevin makes sure that everyone who walks down our hallways knows that this is a place people care about because of the care he has taken…I appreciate his support of our students, and I enjoy his cheerful presence on staff.”
After employment, finding permanent housing became Kevin’s next major goal. He faced several challenges along the way, including saving enough money to pay first and last month’s rent and getting hit with an unexpected car repair. However, we’re happy to report that this winter Kevin moved into his very own apartment! He’s settling in well, and while he’s not ready to do any long term planning, he’s grateful to OSH. “I appreciate you guys’ help. Our Saviour’s was a lifesaver. It put me on a path. I’m not sure where that path is going to lead, but it put me on one.”