Mark grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Lakewood High School. He enlisted in the Army and served from 1972-1976. He spent time in Germany and Panama. He was medically released from duty after his ear drum was ruptured during a training exercise. Mark went on to get married and have 2 children. He worked in construction for many years, then in maintenance for a commercial property company.
During a difficult life change in 1991, Mark says his problems with alcohol grew, even though he maintained employment. After his alcoholism took hold of his life, Mark eventually lived in and out of shelters for a number of years. He checked himself into a rehabilitation center for his alcohol dependency in November 2015.
Mark has lived at South Point Commons, one of EDEN's permanent supportive housing complex, for 8 months. He tells us he is looking forward to obtaining his 1 year sobriety chip from Alcoholics Anonymous in less than 2 weeks. Mark says living in a PSH building “was an opportunity to get my life back together”. He recalls one trip to the hospital and he almost ended up in a coma from complications with alcohol. “I was just sick and tired of it all."
When asked who assisted him in securing safe and stable housing, he spoke about Tyrone, an outreach worker with Care Alliance, one of our Housing First partners. “Tyrone should be given a medal of honor”. With the help of Tyrone, Ruth--a VA social worker--and staff at EDEN, Mark was able to move off the streets, and into his own one-bedroom apartment.
Mark now works part-time with his brother, installing, cleaning, and maintaining ponds. He also volunteers weekly at St. Malachi’s serving food to the homeless, and told us, “I like to talk to people when I see them, and tell them where they can go for help." He also knows that sometimes coming off the streets isn’t easy, and affirmed, “Unless you’re ready to get help, you’re not going to accept it." Mark says he has been thoroughly enjoying living at South Point and brings his grandchildren, (he has 7), to visit him, often, so he can babysit for his children.
When asked what he likes most about the PSH he said: “You get a lot of support when you move-in The staff are just wonderful." He flashed a smile and exclaimed, “Ms. Wilson is wonderful; I am very grateful for her!”, referring to the Property Manager, Nicole.
When asked what advice he might have for other people experiencing homelessness Mark said “I tell them to get a hold of EDEN; I recommend this PSH model to everyone."
We are so happy Mark is thriving in his new home, and wish him continued success at his job, and in his sobriety.
Karen is a quiet, soft-spoken woman. She lived in EDEN’s permanent supportive complex Greenbridge Commons for 7 years, and recently moved into a smaller, one-level ranch complex also owned by EDEN, which is now a better setting due to her decreased mobility. Karen tells us she enrolled in the Marines after graduating from high school at John Hay in East Cleveland. She served time in the Vietnam War from 1970-1975.
Karen had a case manager through Veterans Affairs named Daryl, whom she credits with assisting her in moving into supportive housing seven years ago. She says PSH is good because “it gives people a chance to settle in somewhere and be on their own, but you have access to other people if you need them.” She enjoyed the group activities and events offered at Greenbridge, and is looking forward to meeting her new neighbors at events at Northridge. She said she has been able to think more and plan for the future, and make goals, thanks to the supportive housing model.
Marian joined the Army in 1980, right after graduating from high school. She was in the 223rd Aviation Battalion and was stationed in Germany. Serving through 1983, she was a medical assistant and a missile range assistant. When Marian returned to the United States, she married and accepted a job at the Department of Transportation. In 1991, Marian became a full-time homemaker, caring for her 5 young children.
Marian divorced in 2004 and stated that from 2004 through 2009 she was in a “really rough period”. She found herself homeless during that time and living in and out of shelters. She said she spent time in Norma Herr Women’s Center, the West Side Catholic Center, and the VA Domiciliary.
It wasn’t until 2013 when a case worker asked if she ever served in the military, that Marian found out she was eligible for case management and other assistance from the VA. Marian moved into EDEN's South Pointe Commons and lived inside the Permanent Supportive Housing complex for a few years before relocating to an apartment through EDEN located down the street. She is currently working two part-time jobs: one at a dry cleaners, and the other and a Subway Sandwich shop. When asked how Permanent Supportive Housing has helped to improve her life, Marian said: “It kept me stable and got me off the streets.”
Marian’s advice for other people facing homelessness is that “Your personality will take you a long way if you have the right attitude.” She also mentioned that has used United Way’s 211 telephone resource service many times, and affirmed that it “is a great free resource that everyone should utilize.”
Marian says she likes working, but is also looking to retire in 7 years when she is 66. She has 5 children, 14 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
Eric is a Clevelander born and raised and has worked at EDEN for 2 years. He is licensed in real estate and has been working as an agent for 16 years. We are not sure how he does it, but Eric manages to work full-time, and still dabble in real estate on the side! Eric works as an EDEN housing locator with veteran who are part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. Clients eligible for assistance through SSVF are referred to EDEN after they have been interviewed and assessed at Central Intake. Once Eric receives word that potential clients are in need of housing, he might meet with them at the Veterans Domiciliary, The City Mission, or one of the shelters.
Eric stated that the main challenge in his line of work is finding the availability of private landlords with affordable, safe housing. There are also challenges finding landlords willing to work with clients who have barriers such as past evictions, low income, and gaps in employment.
Eric affirmed that it can take a while for the clients he serves to build up trust with him, because they have often had promises to broken to them in the past. He says “The rewarding aspect is knowing that you have made a positive impact on someone's life when they secure a place they can truly call home. I let them know that there is a difference between where you are now and the next chapter in life, and that they are in control of writing their story from that point.”
He reflects how he will see past clients in the grocery store, or walking in the neighborhood, and they will stop him to say thank you.
EDEN is thankful for Eric—and all of his colleagues—for their hard work and dedication to our mission which is “to provide housing solutions to people facing the challenges of housing insecurities and homelessness.”
Jalisa was born and raised in Cleveland, and went to school for urban planning in Alabama. She moved back to Cleveland in 2015 to help her family, and started working at EDEN in October, 2016 as a Housing Locator for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.
Growing up, her father worked for FrontLine Service, a longstanding partner agency of EDEN’s, which provides case management, mental health services, and other supports to many of our clients. FrontLine is also on EDEN’s Housing First coalition partners, and is the service provider at all of the Permanent Supportive Housing buildings. Jalisa recalls meeting some of the homeless individuals that her father assisted while she was growing up. Through frequent activities such as volunteering at shelters during holidays, she was ingrained with a sense for the importance of serving the less fortunate.
When asked about the most challenging aspects of her job, Jalisa stated “When the clients are discouraged, when they feel they have hit rock bottom, or when they have given up hope at a better life.”When listing the most rewarding parts of her job, Jalisa smiled brightly and spoke about when the veterans she works with finally get housed, and when they have furniture being set up, and when they call to give her a simple ‘thank you’. “Many people take having a home for granted, without even realizing it”. Jalisa related that months after moving into their permanent homes, some clients still reach out to her to text her warm wishes on a holiday. “It really brightens up my day and makes me smile”.
EDEN is grateful to Jalisa—and all of her colleagues—who put the following key component of our vision into action:
"Developing, operating, and administering safe, decent, affordable housing which will enable the communities’ most vulnerable individuals and families to live with hope and dignity.”