By Pathway to Housing DC
With a deep southern accent, Kevin asked Leta, a Pathways Downtown BID Outreach specialist, “Wanna see something?” Even knowing exactly what was about to happen (this would be the 3rd time in about an hour), Leta smiled and replied “What?” With a smile on his face, Kevin reached into his backpack and pulled out a keyring with two golden keys hanging in the air. Shaking them in his hand to make them jingle, Kevin’s smile grew to a grin as he said “My keys!. Aren’t they beautiful? I still can’t believe this is real. Can you?”
Decades before, Kevin had moved to DC from North Carolina to live with his grandmother. After she passed away in 2005, Kevin found himself alone, struggling with sporadic work that didn’t pay enough, his mental health, and a serious health disorder that caused frequent seizures that often left him hospitalized. Unable to afford a place of his own, Kevin would end up experiencing homelessness for the next 13 years, sleeping in an alcove just outside Macy’s in Downtown DC. It’s little wonder that when the Pathways Downtown Outreach Team met Kevin, he had given up hope of ever holding keys to a home of his own.
In that time he had tried many times to get off the streets. He took any job he could find, worked as hard as he possibly could, but there always seemed to be something in the way, whether it was money, his seizures, or the long stretches of time where he couldn’t find a job. When he was initially approached about housing, Kevin didn’t believe it was possible. He thought that there must be some kind of catch. What could they do that was so different? The team worked hard to build a relationship of trust and prove that they could help. They helped Kevin maintain steady contact with a doctor and access to medication for his seizures. They helped him obtain key documentation that he needed to qualify for housing assistance, supporting him throughout the process. They helped Kevin get connected to a housing program and the services he needed to maintain his mental and physical health. He had always had it in him to get off the streets, but he just wasn’t able to do it on his own; he needed help. Through the Pathways Downtown BID Outreach team, he not only received that vital support, but the opportunity to have the keys that he now proudly held out in front of him, jingling with a sound that to Kevin, represented the hope of a home and the future that he thought was lost forever.