After years of ups and downs, housing has finally brought peace and calm to Heather’s life.
“I love my apartment,” Heather said. “My quiet little sanctuary.”
Heather has lived in her apartment in downtown Gloucester for a year – but she remembers well what life was like before she moved in.
For two years, Heather was homeless. She bounced from place to place, sleeping wherever she could find a safe place for the night. She would sleep in her car, at a family member’s house, or at the Action Inc. emergency shelter, where she spent most of her time.
Heather met with an Action Inc. case manager every week for over a year to look for apartments. Originally from Gloucester, she was looking for apartments that were close to home. She couldn’t believe how hard it was to find a place that she could afford on Cape Ann. But one day, a spot opened up in Action Inc.’s Housing First program – and everything changed.
In August 2016, Heather moved into her own one-bedroom apartment in Gloucester through Housing First. This innovative program provides clients with permanent housing, as well as supportive services to help them get back on their feet.
Heather now has a safe place to live that is all her own. She no longer has to worry about where she will sleep for the night or where her next meal will be. Instead, she can focus on taking care of herself, helping her family, and reaching her goals.
“Since I got Housing First, I got clean and have managed to stay clean,” Heather said. In addition to maintaining her sobriety, she successfully completed treatment for Hepatitis C and is in the process of seeking help from a cardiologist for a heart condition. Heather has also been able to keep her job, where she provides in-home care for a disabled man in a nearby town.
Housing has brought stability to Heather’s life, which has enabled her to be a source of help and support for her family.
“I’m able to take my mother, who’s elderly, to her appointments,” Heather said. On Thursday, she will bring her son to his college orientation. Often, Heather will cook for family on the weekends.
“Housing First has allowed me to really reconnect with my sons and my mother,” Heather said. “It’s nice to just sit around and have a big Sunday dinner and watch a movie. That’s what makes me happy.”