Stewart's Story

Stewart's Story

Photo courtesy of Gaelle Morand

"Stewart” was first diagnosed with mental illness at the age of 19. Before suffering from bouts of paranoia, he had been a B average student in school. But as his psychosis progressed, he began to isolate himself from friends and family and eventually dropped out of the 12th grade.

“Stewart” spent most of his adulthood homeless on Skid Row. 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 on his very own apartment and the luxury of a warm and safe place to sleep every night. “Stewart” has made a fresh start in life and plans to enroll in business classes this fall in hopes of building a better future.

Welcome home, “Stewart”!

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