A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home

Photo courtesy of Gaelle Morand

Stewart (not his real name) was first diagnosed with mental illness at the age of 19.  Before Stewart became paranoid and began hearing voices, he was a B average student. As his psychosis progressed he began to isolate himself from friends and family and eventually dropped out of school during a psychotic episode.

Stewart spent most of his adulthood homeless in Skid Row. There he cycled in and out of jail for petty theft and drug use. His mental illness kept him on the streets for years where he neglected his physical and mental health and contracted HIV.

Five years ago, he began to visit the Frank Rice Access Center at Lamp Community, a local United Way partner. There, he was able to use the center’s showers and receive clothing and advocacy services as he remained on the streets of Skid Row. A year ago, he decided to accept housing assistance.

Even after Stewart left the organization’s emergency shelter due to his paranoia, Lamp staff members refused to give up on him. They persuaded him to accept mental health treatment and permanent supportive housing. Since then, he has been awarded his Social Security benefits, learned how to manage his money and started attending routine medical and psychiatric appointments.

He now has a lease to his own apartment, a key to his door and the luxury of a warm and safe place to sleep.  He is a new man who is thinking more positively and now has “hope” for a better future. Having his own apartment has given Stewart a fresh start in life and this Fall he hopes to enroll in business classes.  Welcome home Stewart!

For more information on Lamp Community visit www.lampcommunity.org

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