Nicolas, a loud and stocky man in his early 50s, had been a familiar face in Farragut Square for more than eighteen years. His often aggressive behavior, coupled with the complicated social service system, had made it difficult for him to access services and get off the streets on his own. Jaded from previous attempts to work with service providers and concerned about the team’s intentions, it took a long time for Emily, a member of our Homeless Street Outreach Team, to build a relationship with Nicolas.

As the weeks passed, the trust between Nicolas and Emily began to grow, and Nicolas mentioned to Emily that his vision was so bad that he could hardly see. Terrified of doctors, Nicolas had been without health care for the eighteen years he had been living on the streets of downtown DC. With Emily by his side, Nicolas agreed to visit our on-site health care clinic and meet with Doug, our Nurse Practitioner. Though extremely anxious throughout the entire visit, Doug’s gentleness and patience put Nicolas at ease. After meeting with Doug, Nicolas learned that he had some serious chronic health concerns, including emphysema, diabetes and hypertension. Because of the severity of his physical and mental health issues, Nicolas was considered to be one of the most vulnerable individuals in Washington, DC, and was quickly transferred onto one of our Housing First teams. Just a few weeks later, Nicolas moved into an apartment of his own!

After nearly two decades of homelessness, Nicolas is finally home. He has thanked us several times for “taking the time to bother with [him] because nobody else wants to be around [him].” Today he is meeting with his Pathways support team regularly to address his health concerns and to learn healthy ways of coping with his anger and frustrations. Every time the Pathways team finishes their weekly home visit, Nicolas walks them to the entryway, and as he locks the door behind them, they can hear him breathe a sigh of relief to finally have a place of his own.