“She came up to me and asked how she could help. I thought she was crazy. No one had ever done that before. Everyone would turn away from me.”
Allison was reflecting back to five years ago and her first impression of Housing for New Hope’s PATH outreach coordinator, Dian Wilson.
At the time, Allison was living in an abandoned trailer off Riddle Road in Durham. Prior to that she lived in a tent in the New Hope Commons area, in an abandoned garage off Highway 54, and in other makeshift quarters throughout the area. She had been living like that for the better part of nine years.
Allison was chronically homeless, a person who has been homeless for over a year continuously or has had multiple episodes of homelessness over the last three years. Allison also suffered from mental and physical disabilities, common characteristics of homeless individuals.
Housing for New Hope’s PATH program was designed to serve both of these populations, ones that too often fall through the cracks. PATH stands for Projects Assisting Transitions from Homelessness. Housing for New Hope began the program, funded primarily by Durham Center, in 2004. PATH provides outreach to chronically homeless individuals who indicate mental illness. Housing for New Hope staff build trusting relationships and assist with access to ongoing services, medication, and housing.
After Dian’s initial visit with her five years ago, Allison came to the decision that for her physical and mental health a drastic change needed to take place. Housing for New Hope’s PATH program helped her through the complex process of obtaining an identification card, social security card, and food stamps. Eventually, PATH began showing her potential apartments, and Allison liked one and signed a lease. Rent was paid initially by PATH until Allison began to receive her disability income. PATH also helped with onetime start-up costs like utility deposits, for which it has a pool of funds to offer.
While Allison now has a home, she cannot help but think about her many friends that are still homeless. When asked about the difference that having her own apartment has made to her life, the first thing that came to her mind was the weather and how she does not have to worry about it in the same way that her friends still do.
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