|Pull Quote||"Victor’s hope has been restored, his self-confidence regained, and today, he is able to contribute to his community in ways he never thought possible."|
Before Victor came to Pathways to Housing DC, he had experienced over a decade of homelessness. His days were spent in survival mode, trekking around Washington, DC with his cumbersome bag of possessions, looking to fulfill his most basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. On cold winter nights, Victor spent hours riding the bus, without any real destination, just to stay warm. When the buses stopped running for the night, Victor would sleep at his usual spot downtown, on top of a heat vent grate near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Victor’s experience living on the streets had destroyed any positive notions he had once held of himself and his personal identity became centered on the fact that he was homeless. Victor numbed his feelings of inadequacy and depression with drugs and alcohol, leading him to neglect his health and distance himself from any positive social supports that might have been available to him. Having lost nearly everything, Victor had fully accepted the idea that he would die on the street – until he found hope in Pathways to Housing DC.
That was a year ago. After Stephanie, a member of our DowntownDC BID Homeless Street Outreach Team, found Victor leaning against a building in Chinatown, she began building trust and rapport with him through daily engagements. Stephanie partnered with Victor to get him linked to mental health services and helped him to obtain vital documents, such as identification and social security cards. This was the first step toward changing Victor’s conception of himself from “a homeless man” to “Victor”, an individual worthy of respect. Victor agreed to participate in the DC Coordinated Entry System, the city’s referral and housing placement process that ensures that people experiencing homelessness receive appropriate assistance with both immediate and long-term housing and service needs. Stephanie’s assessment was used to determine that Victor was appropriate for permanent supportive housing, and a few weeks later he was putting the key, for the very first time, into the door of his new apartment.
Today, Victor has a permanent and safe place to call home. He also has the assistance of a case manager, who is supporting his recovery efforts and partnering with him to ensure he receives the health care he needs. While Victor’s battle with homelessness is over, he recognizes that there are many others who lack the stability and dignity of housing. Victor now spends his free time with The Way Home Campaign, advocating for an end to chronic homelessness in the District. He recently met with Councilmember Silverman on the subject and celebrated when Mayor Bowser re-tweeted his photo of the meeting. For Victor, this was the ultimate representation of the radical change that had taken place since finding Pathways to Housing DC. Victor’s hope has been restored, his self-confidence regained, and today, he is able to contribute to his community in ways he never thought possible.