Mary is a 66 year-old petite woman with an infectious spirit and warm smile. After spending 33 years working for the federal government, she took her pension and retired to Southeast, DC. However, her comfortable retirement was short lived. Compounding health concerns and a serious stroke left Mary unable to live on her own. After a lifetime of stability, Mary quickly found herself homeless, staying in a park just a few blocks west of the White House.
Mary did her best to maintain her independence and dignity on the streets. She managed her own finances, kept up her appearance, and contacted her family regularly. But in the chaos of homelessness, Mary struggled to manage her health. Mary had been diagnosed with HIV in the late 1980s and bi-polar disorder in the early 2000s. As one can imagine, living on the streets made traveling across town and keeping her doctor’s appointments nearly impossible. Without consistent care, Mary regularly ended up in the emergency room and hospital for days at a time.
It was not long before Mary began working with our Pathways to Housing DC homeless street outreach team. Worried about her age and waning health, the team quickly jumped to find a place that would shelter Mary from the stifling summers and frigid winters. But Mary wanted more than a roof to shelter her; she wanted a home of her own, a safe haven where she could regain control over her life and take care of her health.
The outreach team partnered with Mary to find her housing that addressed her priorities and fit the level of care she needed. Luckily, our amazing partners at Friendship Place had the perfect housing solution for Mary. Friendship Place had an open apartment for independent seniors in a building with an on-site case manager for occasions when Mary needs some extra support. Additionally, the location provided easy access to Mary’s doctors and family. Today, Mary is thriving in her new home. She is successfully managing her health and is able to finally enjoy her retirement.
We need your help to continue offering real solutions to end chronic homelessness in Washington, DC.