Tony served in the U.S. Army from 1984-1991, and was stationed in Both Japan and Germany. “Life was a very confusing time for me when I returned”, recalls Tony. Tony then went on to become a corrections officer for many years after he returned from the Army, but says the stress of the job built up, and life became unmanageable. As a result, Tony was no longer able to continue working or maintain stable housing, and he became homeless.
Tony first learned about services for veterans in 1997. He stated that at that time, resources were not openly advertised and there was a stigma associated with mental health issues, so all information he received was word of mouth. He struggled with depression and anxiety for many years.
Tony was living in “The Dom”-the Veterans Domiciliary-last year when he attended a “Home for the Holidays” open-house event at EDEN’s Buckeye Square Permanent Supportive Housing building (PSH). He visited the property and really liked it, so he took the initiative to speak with the Property Manager, Roberto. Tony was provided with detailed information, and was referred to a VA Case Manager. Since the community’s newest PSH complex would be housing 25 veterans, the Case Manager met with Tony the next day, and began the process of securing Tony a home there.
On January 17, 2017, Tony moved into the Commons at West Village. He says he grew up on the west-side, and feels comfortable in the area. “I feel safe and secure and can sleep at night” he says, quietly, while looking around his well-kept apartment.
Tony recently secured a bike to help him exercise and reduce back pain. He says he talks about his new apartment all the time to anyone who asks. People that knew him before his move to his apartment tell Tony that “they see the change in me since I’ve lived here.”
Tony credits Reva, Sharon and Annabella from the VA, who helped him find out about EDEN properties, and helped him move out of the Domiciliary and into his new home. He is also grateful to the property manager, Julie, and all of the staff at the Commons of West Village, because he knows that “they are right down the hall if I need them. That is very important for someone like me. I am able to close my door, and have my own space and my solitude, but I know that I am also part of a community right outside that door, which makes me feel safe.”
We are thrilled to announce that chronic homelessness in Cuyahoga County has dropped by 86% since EDEN and its Housing First partners opened their first Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) complex, Emerald Commons, in 2006.
There are currently 9 PSH buildings co-owned and operated by EDEN, and the 10th-- Inez Killingsworth Pointe—in Cleveland’s Union-Miles Neighborhood, is slated to be completed by the end of 2017. This building will house 66 residents with single bedroom apartments, and onsite support services.
You may be asking “how does Housing First work”?
Permanent supportive housing enables people to become housed, and then work to regain control over their lives and their health in a safe, secure environment.
This approach is based on research and experience that has demonstrated that stable housing is the linchpin to a chronically homeless individual’s ability to address obstacles that have impeded stability, and is the best solution for long-term success. In addition, Permanent Supportive Housing reduces significant burden on the safety-net system, and delivers great financial savings to the community.
Approximately 16% of the residents in our PSH buildings are veterans. Almost 9% of all homeless people in the nation are veterans. Our Permanent Supportive Housing provides on-site case management to meet with residents to insure housing stability. There is also a community room for meetings and events, a computer lab, laundry facilities, and other amenities.
Our goal is to completely eradicate chronic homelessness in our community, and we have almost achieved our goal! EDEN could not achieve this success without the unwavering commitment of our Housing First partners:
Enterprise Community Partners, Cleveland Housing Network, Frontline Service, Cuyahoga County, City of Cleveland, Sisters of Charity Foundation, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Care Alliance Health Center and the Cleveland VA Medical Center.
Our region should be very proud of our success in combating chronic homelessness by providing a permanent home and support services to individuals with the highest needs and most barriers to housing. For more information, please visit: http://www.housingfirstinitiative.org
Fitz served in the U.S. Marines from 1982-1986. He was stationed in Japan most of that time. He related that it was very difficult adjusting to civilian life after returning to the U.S., and stated that he had “a very rough time, for many years”.
Fitz feels that in the past, treatment and services for veterans “were hidden”. He says that now, they are much easier to find. Because he was unaware of what was available to him at the VA, he didn’t hear about services for veterans until 2000.
This past year, Fitz made a commitment to himself to improve his physical and mental health, and stabilize his housing situation. On December 6th of 2016, Fitz moved into EDEN’s new Commons at West Village Permanent Supportive Housing building. He relayed that he “I couldn’t believe that I was deserving of a beautiful and safe apartment, like this”. He looked around his spotless apartment with pride, and stated that he loved to sit in his recliner by the window overlooking the grounds. He pointed out his new coffee table and a framed picture of his beloved mother, and turned up his favorite smooth R. and B. song.
We asked him if there was anyone that was instrumental in helping him secure and settle into permanent housing, and he spoke glowingly about all the staff at West Commons. He mentioned the property manager, Julie, who he said is “wonderful and kind”. Fitz broke into a huge grin when describing Annabella, the full-time VA case manager on-site, and said she is “so nice, and so friendly, and so helpful. She is always there for me”.
There are 24 other veterans living in West Village besides Fitz, and they comprise 36% of the residents. There are weekly meeting groups for support, and a picnic is planned for the week before Memorial Day. Fitz stated that he loves the informal interactions with the other veterans in the building. He said “It is nice to know that there is a group of people that just understands. We all do our own things, but whenever we see each other, we can really relate to each other.”