Victoria – New Hope Housing at Reed
Not long ago, Victoria was in a bad place in her life. She was struggling with a drug addiction and no desire to live. She was on the verge of ending her life and that of her unborn child, until a desperate phone call to her cousin, pleading for help, changed her life.
With her cousin’s support, Victoria took a 17-hour bus ride from Dodge City, Kansas to Pasadena, Texas to find shelter with her family. “I spent a month resting and getting clean, preparing for the birth of my daughter.” Shortly after her daughter’s birth, Victoria entered an outpatient substance abuse treatment program where she received services geared for pregnant and parenting women and their children. After graduating from the program, she spent a short time at the Women & Family Development Center at Star of Hope’s Cornerstone Community®. New Hope Housing Reed had recently opened across the street from Star of Hope, and Victoria discovered that she qualified to move into her own apartment at NHH Reed.
“Too good to be true. I’m not going to believe it until I see it,” said Victoria when she received the news, filled with hopelessness. “Nothing good ever happens to me.” But in the moment when she opened the door to her new apartment, reality set in. This was her home, one filled with hope and opportunity. “I enjoy the freedom to make my own choices, to be an adult, and not feel like I am institutionalized,” she said. “When I look around my new home at Reed and see the beautiful apartment, the community rooms, and the playground, I feel safe.”
Living at Reed helps her understand that the good life is closer than what she once thought. “I wake up at 5 a.m. so that I can get on the bus that stops here inside the campus. I take my daughter to daycare, and then I go to work. I am back at home by 6 p.m.” On some days, her friend comes over and they cook together and watch movies, while the kids play. Other days, she attends AA/NA meetings and other events in the Reed community rooms.
For now, Victoria wants to continue to work on building a good foundation for her family. She also wants to be around people with a positive attitude, as well as to remain clean and sober. Thanks to Reed, she has peace of mind. And, she graciously states, “The staff is so polite and helpful, and I would like to grow with them. This is an amazing opportunity. You get out of it what you put into it.”
Victoria sees herself living at Reed for 3-4 years. Her goal is to absorb all of the knowledge and skills she can gain at New Hope Housing to buy a new home for her and to raise her daughters.
“I know I can do it!,” she proudly exclaims. We know it, too!
Bryant – New Hope Housing at Perry
Heaven spelled backward is Nevaeh. And Miss Nevaeh got straight A’s in the 1st grade this year – with a Certificate of Achievement in Math and Science! Her success in school is due in part to the quality time she spends with her father, Mr. Bryant, a resident of New Hope Housing’s Perry community. Several days a week after school, Nevaeh visits her father at Perry, where Bryant has lived since 2014 and found his own success. They study together; Bryant helps her complete her homework assignments; they play games and experience quality time.
New Hope staff and residents often see Bryant and his daughter proudly walking the four blocks together from the school bus stop to his home at Perry. It is a familiar walk for Bryant, who was born in the OST/South Union neighborhood and attended high school at Jack Yates before graduating from Hastings High. Now, it is a road marked with reconnection.
After careers in telemarketing and working as a trained chef, Bryant experienced an illness that ultimately led him to become homeless and lose connection with his family. It was the disabling illness and subsequent hospitalizations that kept him on the streets for nearly four dark years. One cold night, Bryant was robbed of his belongings as he slept. Feeling hopeless and lost, he visited a local social service agency the very next morning and met with a case manager. After telling his story of living on the streets with a chronic health condition, he was surprised to learn that he qualified for a program that provides housing and access to the medical services he desperately needed.
Bryant and Nevaeh were not immediately reunited when he moved into Perry. It took two years of dedicated work before he felt stable enough to resume steady contact with Nevaeh and her mother. Today, Nevaeh is a regular guest at Perry and looks forward to spending more quality time with her father over the summer holiday.
Frank – New Hope Housing at Canal
Homelessness, depression, chronic illness, divorce, money problems – it seems like Frank has had bad breaks at every juncture. But through it all, his love for his two sons has remained constant.
“Everything that’s ever been close to me, I’ve lost, except my boys,” he says. “They’re the most important things in the world to me.”
In 1984, after four years in the Army, Frank flipped a coin and ended up in Houston. He found a job in a warehouse and started to work his way up. Marriage and two sons followed closely. But he was caught by surprise when his wife left, throwing him into an emotional tailspin that cost his job.
Frank had custody of his two young sons, but it was not easy. He managed to keep the boys with him during the first episode of homelessness, but when the second came he was forced to send them to live with their mother.
In 2006, Frank was diagnosed with diabetes. His declining health made it even more difficult to keep a job, especially after he started requiring insulin shots. Finally, several of his toes were surgically removed, causing him to need a wheelchair.
After surgery, Frank lived at Harmony House for a year, where he now works as a resident assistant in the Tuberculosis Recovery Center. They told him about New Hope Housing, and he jumped at the opportunity for an affordable place of his own.
Through it all, Frank and his sons, both in the Army now, remained close.
“Three things keep me stable: my sons, my church and New Hope,” Frank says. “From day one, I’ve been glad I moved here. It’s clean, and you get so much for the money. I’m so proud to have my own place, and I think my sons are proud of me too.”
Theresa – Former New Hope Housing at Hamilton Resident – Homeowner
Theresa Dunn is a mover. From a state of despair to one of grace. From a world of suffering to a universe of optimism. From homelessness to New Hope Housing residence to home ownership. She is a woman with the mission of sharing her story of perseverance and faith.
The St. Louis native and graduate of cosmetology school moved to Houston in 2000. Circumstances, an abusive relationship and a serious injury requiring surgery prompted her to seek shelter at the Women’s Center. Theresa is grateful for the accommodation but admits it was a difficult period in her life. “I was so confused, with little direction, and cried all the time.”
She learned about New Hope Housing and moved to the Hamilton community. “Wow! My apartment was like a college dorm. It was peaceful, a place to concentrate, gather my thoughts. It felt like home.”
While living at Hamilton, Theresa says she learned who she was. “New Hope gave me the opportunity to take stock, to rediscover that I’m a very happy, determined woman who has a lot to offer. “
Relying on her inner strength and desire to alter her life’s direction, she attended workshops to learn about financing a home purchase, mortgages and property taxes, and worked to settle her school loan debt.
All the hours of study paid off: Theresa is a homeowner. She lives in Humble in a two bedroom/two bath townhouse with a cathedral ceiling and fireplace. “It’s a nice, safe place to live, and I own it!”
Today, she is using her energies to conquer another foe: cancer. Having undergone chemotherapy and radiation, soon she will have another surgery at Harris Health LBJ Hospital. In the meantime, she volunteers at LBJ’s Infusion Center, bringing stuffed animals and treats for the patients undergoing treatment. And, Theresa is a patient advocate at Harris Health Squatty Lyons Health Center. Her pastor and fellow congregants of the New Covenant Church are always a comforting source of support.
“Hold on. Don’t ever give up,” Theresa advises. “There is a life inside you. I wouldn’t be where I am today without New Hope. The organization gave me peace and a sense of safety and ease so I could make good decisions in my life. I’m here to tell my story because of the many blessings of New Hope.”
Freddie – New Hope Housing at Sakowitz
When Freddie was growing up in Houston’s Fifth Ward, just around the corner from New Hope Housing’s 2424 Sakowitz property, he had his eye on a better life.
“All of us have dreams,” Freddie says. “I wanted to get out of the ghetto.”
And after a stint in the Army, he set about making his dream come true.
“I had it all,” he says. “A good job, a house in the suburbs, three wonderful kids, a beautiful wife. Then I introduced crack cocaine. I thought it was harmless, but I lost my family and everything I had. I just walked away from it.”
For 20 years, Freddie spiraled down. When he hit rock bottom, he was crashing in a friend’s rundown rent house and doing minor car repairs to pick up just enough money to feed his habit.
“I was broken mentally, physically and spiritually,” he says.
When Freddie was arrested for the fifth time, he was assigned to the STAR (Success Through Addiction Recovery) Drug Court program for repeat offenders, which includes strict rehab for 90 days. It was the break he needed, and it turned his life around.
After he was released, Freddie found a job and stayed in efficiency apartments that he describes as “concrete cubbyholes.” But when he lost his job, his age and drug convictions got in the way of finding another. When Freddie became eligible for Social Security at 62, he moved into Sakowitz.
“I fell in love with it here,” he says. “I like the landscaping, and it’s so bright and clean. It’s great to be able to go into my room and have some privacy to listen to my old friends Otis Redding, Sam Cook, and Sam and Dave.”
“For some people, New Hope is a stepping stone, but I’m happy right here.”
Sara – New Hope Housing at Sakowitz
The shadow of addiction clouds the lives of many New Hope Housing residents. Alcohol, drugs or harmful relationships can twist lives toward sadness and loss.
For Sara, it was life on the road.
“I’ve been drifting for decades,” she says. “Once it gets in your blood, it’s hard to kick – just like an addiction. Even now, I’m constantly thinking about where I’d like to go.”
Sara has lost track of all the places she’s been. She hitchhiked or splurged on bus fare, patching together scraps of money she earned working in laundromats, delivering circulars or shelving books in libraries. Some of her memories are sweet, like the five years she spent in Flagstaff, the scenery in Washington and the history in Philadelphia. Others are heartbreaking, especially the son she gave up at birth in Louisiana.
When she first started drifting, Sara was pushed from a moving 18-wheeler, which did major damage to her knees. As the injury and the years on the road started to catch up with her, Sara found it more and more difficult to keep up the vagabond life.
Two years ago, Sara drifted to Houston looking for a warm place to survive the winter. After she spent six months at the Star of Hope, they referred her to New Hope, where she continues to receive services through Star of Hope’s New Haven program.
The old injury torments her, forcing her to use a cane. But she is a voracious reader and enjoys surfing the Internet in the computer center.
“New Hope was here for me when I needed it the most,” she says. “It means so much to have a place of my own, something I haven’t had in years.
“I’ve had my share of troubles, and the road still calls me sometimes. But I’m happy here.”