*Story by guest writer: Nick Wenzel, Clinical Case Manager, The People Concern.
The road from homelessness to permanent housing isn’t always a linear path. At The People Concern, our teams provide each program participant with individually tailored wraparound services to ensure that they receive the appropriate level of care and best-fit housing solutions. Together, we walk along the road to success with our program participants, empowering them every step of the way to make positive changes that will ultimately lead them to permanent housing. Rene’s story illustrates some of the challenges our program participants face while living on the streets and serves as an inspiring example of how far someone can come when they have a strong support system behind them.
When our Outreach Team first met Rene, he was living on the streets in Santa Monica. Estranged from his family and grieving the death of his long-term girlfriend, Rene struggled with depression and used alcohol as a way to cope with his mental health issues. Prolonged substance abuse severely impacted his physical health. In July of 2020, at the young age of 36, Rene was hospitalized for advanced heart failure. While at the hospital Rene flat-lined. Thankfully doctors were able to resuscitate him and he regained some of his heart function. This near-death experience left Rene with a new outlook on life. With the help of his team, Rene began taking his medications and seeing the cardiologist regularly. He decided then to work on his sobriety and remained sober for 5 months!
Although Rene was making great progress, the anniversary of his girlfriend’s death caused him to once again fall into a deep depression and turn to alcohol as a way to cope. Our team continued to engage with Rene, encouraging him to accept services and housing, but for nearly a month he had given up on himself -abusing alcohol and foregoing his medications. His behavior soon became so dangerous that our team initiated an involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. Once released from the hospital, our team increased their engagement efforts and Rene’s mental and physical health significantly improved.
Together, Rene and his team have made tremendous progress. Today, he regularly attends his cardiologist appointments, is consistent with his medication, is working on his sobriety, is picking up odd jobs to increase his income, is working towards permanent housing, has regained complete functioning of his heart and is even smiling again! “Thank you, if not for you beautiful people I would be dead,” says Rene. Our teams could not be prouder of the progress Rene has made and continues to make every day.