Michael Couldn’t Stand Shelters
Michael left his parents’ house after they had a falling out at age 17 and started sleeping on friends’ couches. “I didn’t know anything about being homeless,” he said. The area provider gave the support that Michael needed on a day-to-day basis, but he remained living in shelters and on the streets. He had constant seizures, almost five each month, making it impossible for him to find a stable job that would understand his health situation.
After Michael and his wife got divorced, he moved to Asheville in hopes of finding assistance from a local shelter. He spent one night in the shelter, felt trapped and confined, and refused to stay there ever again. For years, Michael camped under overpasses and in empty lots downtown. But one day he got hit by a car and his broken leg required him to stay in a shelter, which he hated. After he was recovered, he spent his days walking carrying all of his possessions on his back and losing over 100lbs because of it.
Homeward Bound Found Michael A Home
Michael finally got on the Homeward Bound housing waiting list, and after a year he got a call that there was an apartment. The adjustment to the indoors was difficult. For over 20 years, Michael searched for campsites every night, so he continued to do so even after he had his own home. Michael was surprised when his case manager, Benjamin, returned every week to check up on him. “I felt respected for the first time in a long time,” he said. “Homeward Bound constantly made sure my needs were being met. They were always somebody I could fall back on for support. Benjamin was always ready to advocate for me.” His case manager brought him to a neurologist to finally receive the healthcare he needed to control his seizures.
“I was amazed by the medical support, emotional support, housing support that Homeward Bound provided me.”
-Michael is pictured here swinging the keys to his own house
After years with Homeward Bound, Michael’s health and housing is stable enough that he no longer needs the support services that the organization provides. He enjoys giving back to the community to those in similar situations. For three years now, he has been volunteering at the Haywood Street Respite, where homeless adults are helped to get back on their feet after being discharged from the hospital, and has found a community to call his own. Even though Michael is graduating from Homeward Bound, he reflects on his time with gratitude–
“It felt good to be accepted. Homeward Bound is a family, it’s based on the heart.”
-Says MIchael (left), and his Homeward Bound case manager Benjamin (right)