Eddie is my friend. I used to tell people that “Eddie is my friend who is homeless.” Not anymore. I can now just say, Eddie is my friend.
Eddie moved into his apartment about a month ago, and I saw it for the first time today. Eddie is king of his castle! He is so happy to be off the streets. His friends at the church he attends donated some gently used living room furniture, a bed, and a kitchen set. It is his home, and when you have been homeless for as many years as Eddie has, home is the best place ever.
Several months ago my friend seemed to be spiraling downward and the light at the end of his tunnel was very dim. At the end of 2015 he was jumped and ended up with a broken jaw. The medical system is pretty stacked against poor people in general, and people who are homeless have it even worse. After being taken by ambulance to the ER and being told his jaw was broken, he was told he would need to see a surgeon. They set up an appointment for him a week and a half later. In the meantime, he was in terrible pain and unable to digest anything that wasn’t liquid or mush. It was a week after that appointment when they scheduled him to have a plate put in his jaw. Most people would have had their jaw wired shut, but Eddie didn’t have enough teeth to hold. His follow-up care was just as bad. He was staying in shelters, and either walking the streets or spending time at drop-in centers to get out of the cold. One side of his face became paralyzed, and it was months before he was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. His choices weren’t always good, but under the circumstances, bad choices became more convenient. My friend was becoming a stranger to me, and I was sad I couldn’t do anything to help.
Then one day he called me, and he sounded like the Eddie I knew and loved. He decided he had had enough and was going to work on getting himself together. He got his housing voucher and diligently started looking for an apartment. I was encouraging, but I must admit I was not hopeful. Fortunately, he was. His staff at Places for People (an organization that provides services to help those with the greatest challenges recover from mental illness and associated chronic illnesses) helped him get through all the necessary steps to get his subsidized apartment, and a few weeks later he was home.
Eddie will always have certain battles to fight due to his mental illness and the physical ailments that come from living on the streets and in temporary housing, but having a roof over his head is a wonderful start.
I asked Eddie’s permission to post this, and to post pictures of him and his new home. When you see them, I think you will see the hope Eddie has started to feel.