That was Kevin’s number one relief in receiving housing—having a safe place for his medication. In fact, stolen meds led to Kevin’s elevated blood pressure and eventually a spinal stroke, heart attack, and a wheel-chair. All while receiving dialysis three times each week. It’s tragic. His story was first shared at our annual luncheon, True Blessings, last November and you can see his 7 minute video here.
On January 4, Kevin moved to his new apartment and many of the cares of a man experiencing homelessness melted away. He has a safe place to store his medication, he doesn’t have to continually watch his stuff, he can take a shower (for as long as he likes), he can rest comfortably when he needs to, and he can limit who comes in and out of his life. These are important because Kevin is very vulnerable; he has numerous medical conditions and now the challenge of rehabbing his legs. Arguably, if Kevin had had housing and safety, he would have taken his medication consistently and not ended up in cardiac arrest. With all of our chronically homeless neighbors: housing is healthcare. It’s almost impossible to improve your health, or limit ER and hospital visits, without the safety and stability of housing.
Kevin is one of nearly 200 individuals in our scattered site program, using housing vouchers and a case manager to provide permanent supportive housing for those who have experienced homelessness for more than one year and suffer at least one disability. He’s now paired with a case manager, Hiwet, who will help him navigate whatever comes his way with the goal of maintaining his housing and a modest, but very good quality of life. That’s our hope for everyone in the program and the 100 more who will be added over the next year. We want to offer our neighbors the basic safety and stability we all enjoy through housing. It’s better for them and it’s better for our community.
Really, our community has benefited from Kevin sharing his story and inspiring many at True Blessings, including Mary Ruth and Philip Payne. They immediately came forward to see how they could help Kevin and our most vulnerable chronically homeless neighbors; what’s resulted is a fund to help neighbors access housing more quickly. Our new Landlord Incentive Fund will help ease the extra commitments a property owner makes when accepting a housing voucher in a competitive market like Charlotte. There are only 30 available and affordable units per 100 households earning at or below 30% of area median income (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2017). Because there is such demand for housing here, landlords are often not interested in renting to someone with a voucher. The Fund will help us reduce barriers for our neighbors including repairs, holding fees, rent for vacant apartments, security deposits, or other costs that either prevent or extend the waiting time for our neighbors waiting to be housed. A large gift from the Payne’s will kick-off the fund and begin helping our neighbors almost immediately. Thanks to Kevin, the Payne’s, and some creative solutions, we will house those additional 100 people more quickly!