We asked our clients to share their experiences with us.
Hello my name is Randy. I am 67 years and have been in the housing first program since the beginning of 2019. Before I was accepted in the housing first program, I had been chronically homeless for two years and arrived at Southridge shelter on January 6, 2019. On my second night I was unable to get out of bed, discoloured, weak and helpless. EMS was called and I was taken to St. Catharine’s hospital. I don’t remember being taken to hospital but I do remember waking in the emergency department on January 8, 2019 and realized I had reached my rock bottom. I was diagnosed with pneumonia, MRSA, hepatitis C and weighed 128 pounds. I had been using substances daily since I retired at 58 years old, lost my housing at 60 years of age, had not seen or spoke to my daughter in two years and knew if I wanted to live I needed to make significant changes in my life. After 7 weeks of intense medical intervention, I was discharged from the hospital on Feb 22, 2019.
I began working closely with The Hope Center for my housing search and recovery while staying with a close friend in Welland. After seeing my motivation to be housed, I was enrolled in the housing first program as of March 1, 2019. The Hope Center assisted me with temporary housing in Niagara Falls and by May 1, 2019 I was happily housed in Port Colborne with my cat Simon.
Since being housed, I have been able to work on my personal health. I have been cured of my hepatitis C, MRSA, undergone replacement hip and knee surgery. The housing first program has assisted with my financial stability to maintain housing independently and rectify my tax debt with the CRA (I had not completed my taxes for 8 years). My greatest accomplishment since being housed is reuniting with my daughter. After years of distrust, our relationship is the best it has ever been and we speak daily. My second greatest accomplishment is to proudly state I have been in recovery since Feb 22, 2019.
My final goals with the program are to be re-housed to ensure my ongoing mobility as I secure my golden years and to mentor other individuals who require peer support. I would like to mentor individuals to share my spirit, strength and hope. I will also be participating in the “Lived Experience” focus group with the Homeless and Housing Action Plan through Niagara Region to share my experience and end homelessness.
Had I not been involved in the housing first program, my life would have remained in a state of misery, chaos and despair. I am beyond grateful for the second chance at life I have been given and everything this program has supported me with.
Meet Cris B.
My name is Cris. I’m 28 years old. I lived most of my life in St. Catharines. I have two sisters named Nicole and Dianna. I went to church for a good part of my life and was involved with Youth Group. In Youth Group, I helped the community, played games with seniors and gave out Christmas cards. My family has a dog named Lacy and two cats. I’ve had so many cats that I can’t remember them all! Before I got to Gateway, I lived with my parents for 10 years of my life. They’re my biggest support system. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have had the strength or courage to look for help.
I was in a really dark place in my life and I was looking for an opportunity to change and grow and to become a better person altogether. That’s when I came across Gateway and ever since then, I’ve been here. Gateway has helped me a lot. Gateway has given me the skills to live my own life. They’ve helped me grow and my confidence. I am a stronger person because of being here.
I like digital arts, drawing, sketching and 3D modelling. All around, I’m very creative. I really enjoy computers and gaming. One of my favourite games is Doom. I like reading and learning about history. I like to learn about science and technology.
My dream is to hopefully one day work for a development studio designing 3D assests or character design. I like art and I get it. I love the aspect that you can create your own world and create whatever you want. You can make something that other people get enjoyment out of. It brings me a lot of joy to know that other people out there are enjoying something that you helped to build and contributed to.