Ending HomelessnessHousingPartnersSuccess Stories

How does permanent housing feel? Terry has two words for you.

Terry, a recently-housed native Houstonian reflects about his time spent experiencing homelessness, where he is now, and his plans for the future. “I have been homeless for more than two years,” said Terry. “It’s just that I’ve been awake for two years. The other years I was drugged and finding ways to escape.”

After falling into a deep depression following separation from his wife, Terry found himself homeless, wandering the streets in a fog for more than eight years. “When she left I couldn’t handle it,” he said. “She wanted to be with her other children and moved back to Georgia.”

While Terry was living secluded on the streets, he hopped from tent community to tent community, but mainly stayed at an encampment near Wheeler Avenue. Outreach teams from Avenue 360 and The Harris Center, as well as SEARCH homeless Services and the Salvation Army of Houston provided Terry with services while he was living unsheltered, but nothing seemed to stick.

Claiming to be let down time and time again, Terry credits his Housing Navigator Tonoa Bond with Career and Recovery Resources as the key factor in getting a roof over his head again. “I think it took me so long to get housed because she was meant to be my navigator,” said Terry. “I’m so glad she was honest with me through the whole process – she’s a great person to have in your corner.”

When Terry finally walked into his new home for the very first time in late August, he was in a state of disbelief. As Tonoa handed him his keys, he stared at them in amazement and said, “I don’t even know what to do with these.”

And when asked how it felt having a place of his own again for the first time in almost 10 years, he had two words to say: “Damn good.”

Tonoa also believes that she was the one who was meant to help Terry get into housing again. “On the day we moved him into his new place, I cried, he cried – we all cried,” she said. “He used to be a chef and when I told him there were pots and pans in his Welcome Basket, he took them out so he could take a picture holding them. This job really just makes you feel good.”

When asked what he would want others to know about those who experience homelessness, Terry shared, “There’s a lot of mental illness in homelessness, and people who are homeless think a lot differently than those who aren’t. People need to be aware of that.”

As for the future, Terry hopes to be able to reconnect with his son soon and to get to know him again. He also has long-term goals of becoming an entrepreneur one day and starting his own business. Right now he’s focusing on job searching and getting back into a normal routine again, one day at a time.