Homeful Housing: The Security and Dignity of Home
In the fall of 2020, Roof Above purchased Hillrock Estates, a 341-unit apartment complex in east Charlotte, with the vision of preserving affordable housing at different income levels. Part of this vision is our Homeful Housing program, providing affordable housing and permanent supportive services for people who have experienced long-term homelessness. Meet two recent tenants we have welcomed home.
In his 61 years, Harris Boyd had never lived on his own. He describes a childhood full of activities and family that also included an abusive father. From an early age, substance use was an attempt to numb his pain. Harris says, “I was in and out of treatment centers for years. I would have spurts of sobriety and then go back. Mental health issues and the disease of addiction took me into homelessness.”
Harris had difficulty with authority and his stays at the Tryon and Statesville shelters were short-lived. During the pandemic, he lived in the north end tent encampment. “I would tell myself lies – I’m okay – but then a degree of fear began to develop in the camp, and I said to myself, this is not for me anymore. I need to leave.” Again, he turned to Roof Above for help. Now he lives at Hillrock Estates as a tenant in the Homeful Housing program.
What did it feel like the day Harris moved into his apartment? “I felt doubt and fear of the unknown – you’re not going to be here long.” He shared his anxiety with Homeful Housing case manager James Speller, saying, “I’ve never had my own place.” Harris credits James for helping him through with compassion, calling to check in and knocking on his door to see how he’s doing. “He lets me know somebody cares.”
Harris is faithful to his 12-step program and tries to “stay in today.” He’s got a cookbook and enjoys cooking in his own kitchen. Best of all, Harris says, “I’ve got my own key. They trust me with a key! That may be small to some, but it’s big to us.”
Little Richard Jordan is a man of few words and doesn’t often make eye contact, but when he does, the great depth in his eyes speaks volumes. He experienced homelessness for more than 10 years, mostly sleeping outside because shelters felt too confining. “At the Tryon shelter, I got a little bit dysfunctional and couldn’t be around others.”
He began sleeping at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, sometimes laying his sleeping bag out on a walkway to the chapel. Members of the congregation noticed him and, instead of making him leave, they took Little Richard into their hearts. He continued to sleep outside the church as members sought services and advocated for him. He calls them “my church family, the great folks at St. Martin’s.”
Still, it was a challenge to find a housing solution that met Little Richard’s needs. Roof Above’s outreach team helped him into an apartment, but soon he was back on the streets. When the Homeful Housing program was created as a permanent supportive housing community for people who have experienced long-term homelessness, Little Richard moved in. Through Roof Above, his medical needs of psychiatric care and medication management are being met.
What is it like living at Hillrock Estates? “I love my neighbors and being a good tenant. I can relax, cook, and straighten up my unit and go to my appointments.” Instead of living day to day on the street, Little Richard believes that he can look forward. “The future is something to progress in.”
Homeful Housing case manager James Speller says that Little Richard is doing well in his new place. “He is thankful for where he is. Listen to him and he will give you the answer that you need.”
Roof Above’s Homeful Housing program will serve 75 individuals like Harris and Little Richard, providing the dignity of a home and supportive services in a community that values them.