“He’s my angel.”
Angie was describing Michael Kelly, Housing for New Hope PATH outreach and re-housing case manager.
Angie was homeless on and off for a number of years in Chapel Hill, staying on and off at the shelter and with family friends. After being enrolled for assistance by Solomon Gasana, Housing for New Hope’s PATH case manager in Orange County, he referred her to Michael.
Michael helped Angie become recertified for Section 8 rental assistance. He also helped her find and move into her own apartment in spring 2010.
Five years ago, Michael Kelly was like Angie. He was homeless. Unlike Angie, Michael lived in the woods. He wasn’t ready for help until he was near death in the emergency room, as a result of food poisoning. Housing for New Hope outreach staff connected him to Housing for New Hope’s Phoenix House, its men’s transitional house. After a year, he moved into its Andover Apartments, one of three apartment developments operated by Housing for New Hope. During this time, he also became a staff member of its outreach team.
Eight months ago, Michael became a homeowner, through Habitat for Humanity of Durham. Michael described his recent journey and the benefits of Housing for New Hope’s permanent supportive housing.
There is no good way to explain how I feel about my new Habitat home. I could use words like excited, happy, overjoyed, even exhilarated, but that just wouldn’t cut it. Mary Poppins said, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, and that might be close.
Everyone has been so supportive of me over the past few years. It seems like yesterday I was sitting in the woods asking God what was going to happen next.
Housing for New Hope staff would visit and bring me stuff in my “house” in the woods. Today, they are helping me decorate my new home.
I just feel overwhelmed by the fact that in less than four years, with the help of Housing for New Hope, I have gone from living in the woods to being a homeowner. I could not do that in the first fifty years of my life with my old ways of thinking.
I have made many friends along the journey, and each time I have made my own little community. When I left the woods, I was afraid to leave my homeless friends. The truth was that I was afraid of being alone because I was used to having a family, and the homeless community was the only family I had.
I have mixed feelings about leaving my community at Andover, too. But I can go back to visit. And I have learned that as I recover my life, that in turn opens up another spot for someone else to enter into the recovery process, and life gets better for everyone. That means one more homeless person getting an affordable, supportive place to live.
See Michael describe what Real Change means to him:
05/16/2013... Durham Magazine - Beyond Homelessness Breakfast
04/30/2013... Durham Herald Sun - Six Places to hold Txakolifest