Tyler, a native Washingtonian, had been living on the streets of Washington, DC for more than four years when we first met him. While he was in his thirties, he looked much older as he walked with his head hung low. He seemed to have a permanent frown on his face. Like so many of the individuals we serve, Tyler struggled with addiction, a serious and persistent mental illness, and untreated health ailments. Many other organizations tried to help Tyler over the years, but their program requirements were too much for him to keep up with. He told us that what he really need was a roof over his head and supportive people in his life to help him get better.
Stephanie, an outreach specialist on our downtown homeless street outreach team, first found Tyler sleeping on a building stoop in Chinatown. Trust between them grew as she visited him daily. They began to partner together to achieve some of Tyler’s short term goals – one of which was going to see a psychiatrist – while they worked to find him housing. Stephanie helped Tyler reconnect with his mental health provider, and traveled with him to his bi-weekly appointments – even staying with him in the waiting room to help calm his nerves.
Even with this additional support, Tyler was still cycling in and out of psychiatric hospitals and other crisis services. Stephanie knew that without his own four walls and more intensive wraparound support services, he would spend the rest of his life languishing on the streets. No amount of medication could cure the anxiety he experienced as a result of his dangerous and chaotic living circumstances.
Stephanie, Tyler, and his sister worked together to connect Tyler to more comprehensive mental health services and an apartment. Last month, Tyler moved into a brand new apartment in the bustling and trendy DC neighborhood of Columbia Heights.
Now that Tyler has a home, he sees his future as limitless. He wants to become involved in The Campaign to Stop Gun Violence and plans to eventually get married and start a family. A renewed sense of hope, Tyler says, is something he can’t help but smile about.