February 9, 2021

An Impactful Initiative Winds Down With Meaning

Denver’s Social Impact Bond (SIB) initiative is a collaborative program providing housing and intensive supportive services to individuals who previously experienced homelessness and were frequent users of the city’s emergency services. The pilot wrapped up in December. A full report on this unique initiative will be available this summer. For now, enjoy these pieces written by SIB participants, whose experience and words we honor.

On Being Homeless to Housed

Written by a SIB client

Waking up outside under only the sky can be, at first, rather unsettling but one actually does get used  to it. Conversely, having gotten accustomed to waking up outside, seeing the sky when one’s eyes open, waking up under a ceiling fan again can be equally troubling. It can cause little tricks in the mind. Feelings of disorientation, isolation, and guilt are all possible elements of such transitions.

Not knowing where one is upon waking first thing in the morning is very disconcerting. It unsettles the psyche.

This says something about the reaches of human adaptation, acceptance, and the condition that arises when transitioning from being housed to homeless to housed again.

It happens to many, and often the process can take as long as a month or more.

Additionally, emotionally anchored in social disturbances can arise. “Housed” is often a solitary environment with possibly a few select friends who visit but do not stay, but homelessness throws one straight into the public’s lap with people everywhere...all the time. Many feel encroached upon by the public and the public often returns the sentiment. If one is not used to being in the constant presence of judgmental, jaded people, it is very unsettling.

However, humans adapt and many homeless find a little “family” for the sharing of food, company, and safety in numbers during sleep. It becomes comfort and daily activities usually revolve around the “family.” When re-introduced to housing, the solitude becomes confining.

The added feelings of guilt of not being able to bring the street “family” in can be, at first, quite overwhelming. Many return to the “family” almost immediately and have also been known to sleep outside with them for the first week, rather than stay under the roof alone. This illustrates most humans as social creatures. And that, initially (sometimes longer), a human will trade safety and shelter for accustomed companionship.

The transition (either way: housed-to-homeless and vice-versa) is one that is travelled in determination to each personality. Some adjust better than others, but it is always dependent upon will and personal goals. Each person following their instincts for survival to the best of their capability.

Why we should not forget being homeless:

  • Encourages empathy
  • Enables options for advocacy

The unusual, unexpected, unsettling feelings I had upon first being housed:

  • Isolation
  • More AND less responsibility

Do You Remember When? 

Written by a SIB client whom has since passed.  She was an amazing woman!

We were once those people, those homeless good-for-nothing people that society was distasteful and annoyed by. Those people that been there and for real done that. 

From getting that life, storing cash, whatever that means to you, from drugs to hugs cause nobody gave a damn. We were the scum of society, the scum on the bottom  of those political shoes. Had to make some cash...we were even sleeping in the trash or actually being and thinking like trash.

Hey! That was then and this is now, life as we knew it has changed. But the Great God almighty looked down on us, tired of seeing his people suffer, harassed, and our pain. He is a merciful God, even though we don’t deserve it. He gave us homes of our very own.

We are home now, but do you believe you deserve it? Are we being good stewards? Are we taking care of what He graciously gave us? He blessed everyone that stays at 2075 N. Broadway. A new hope, a new life. We are now people that are grateful, that’s why we have learned to keep our houses clean. We are showing Him gratitude and thankfulness.

I was tired of sleeping outside, having no personal space, waiting in lines just to eat and shower. Things have changed—a new day! No more lines. I have my own space, a place where I know my stuff is finally. No more starting over every week, I don’t have to start over. Thank you Jesus for the peace I have now. When I die, my plan is to die in my home...not on the streets.

Aren’t we glad? Are we happy? Let’s take care of the blessings He gave us. We are new people, the old is gone and the new is here. He blessed us with the Coalition and we are grateful. Thank you Jesus. Amen.

In my heart, this is the legacy of 2075 N. Broadway.

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