“I’m going HOME!”
Moving from homelessness to housing is often not a giant leap but a series of small steps, ones that most people have never had to take and maybe don’t even recognize. Each step is a hard-earned victory leading to a new life.
Richard Patterson experienced homelessness for nearly 20 years. While he visited our N. Tryon Street shelter, he mostly slept under the Tryon Street bridge. He ate lunch daily at our Day Services Center soup kitchen, where he met Heather Bartlett from our street outreach team. Heather slowly built a trust relationship with this quiet, gentle man who was hesitant about leaving a life he knew he could survive.
When COVID entered our world, Mr. Patterson took the brave step of moving to the county-funded motel designated for seniors experiencing homelessness. Heather continued to work with Mr. Patterson, encouraging him to take his next steps towards housing. Then, the two went to Moore Place “just to look.”
There, Mr. Patterson ran into Sheldon Jackson, who had also spent 20+ years on the street where the two had become good friends during their time in homelessness. Sheldon shared, “Richard is my friend. I prayed that he would get off the streets.”
After the tour and reconnection with his old friend, Mr. Patterson decided that the Moore Place community was right for him and moved in just a few weeks later.
Today Mr. Patterson smiles, “It feels magnificent – having somewhere to go! If I’m out and I think, which way should I be going – I’m going HOME. I feel proud, I feel ready, like even if things don’t go your way, you can come home.”
We have learned the power of home for all of us during the pandemic. At Roof Above, we are committed to moving people home who have been homeless for 20 days or 20 years. Our community’s generous support made it possible for Mr. Patterson and Sheldon, two friends, to find home and to become neighbors at Moore Place.