Matt grew up in an unstable household, with a family plagued by alcoholism and addiction. By age 14, he was on his own.
Matt became homeless – and remained homeless for the next 30 years. He stayed in shelters, on the streets, or in rundown rooming houses if he could afford to rent a spot for the night.
Like his father, he learned to escape tough situations by drinking. He struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol, at times drinking as many as three pints of vodka per day.
Staff at Action Inc.’s shelter helped Matt get into a detox program, but he couldn’t maintain his sobriety when he didn’t have a stable place to live. The chaos of homelessness took over his life.
After months on the waiting list for housing, Matt’s name rose to the top of the list for an apartment through Action Inc.’s Housing First program. It was a big day for Matt when he learned he would be moving into his own apartment.
“I was very excited,” He said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen…I’ve never had my own apartment.”
Action Inc.’s Housing First program provides clients with permanent housing, as well as supportive services to help them get back on their feet. Housing First recognizes that people often need to have a roof over their head, a safe place to sleep, and the support of a case manager in order to improve their health and work toward long-term goals.
“They gave me this apartment so I could get back on my feet,” Matt said. “They didn’t tell me not to drink. [But I know that] if I continue to drink, I’m not going to get anywhere.”
Since he moved into housing, Matt is sober and works on maintaining his sobriety every day. His overall health has improved, too. He is on the right medications and is seeing a dentist regularly.
Housing has enabled Matt to reconnect with his family. He sees his brother frequently and talks to his mom on the phone every day.
Now, Matt wants to help others by giving back to the community. He is hoping to start working at the Action Inc. emergency shelter. “My life experience could be helpful to people,” he said. He hopes to help others get their lives back on track, while continuing to better himself every day.
“I’ve never done this well before,” Matt said. “My life has improved 100 percent.”