Michael was just a teenager when he became homeless in South Central Los Angeles. “My mother and father were good parents,” he says, “but they were alcoholics.” In an effort to escape what he describes as a dysfunctional family, he left home, found a job at a carwash, and lived in an abandoned building across the street from it.
For the next 40 years, Michael remained homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. He was able to maintain employment for much of that time, but never with a wage that allowed him to find a home.
“That’s when I started making some mistakes,” Michael says. He ended up involved with drugs and alcohol, and was in and out of prison. “I became immune to what I was doing,” he admits. “It started to get comfortable to me.”
Upon realizing this, he committed himself to making changes in his life. When Michael discovered he’d developed congestive heart failure—inherited from his parents—he knew he needed help.
Thanks to Union Station’s extensive intake system, Michael was able to have his needs properly assessed and he was referred to their Housing for Health program. Within 60 days, he was housed.
“I thank God for putting good people in my life to help me make a way forward,” Michael says. “I didn’t even think I was going to come this far. But I did.”
Today, in his new home, Michael is happier than he’s ever been. “I love this place,” he says with a smile. “I’m able to come in and out freely. I can keep it clean and respect it.” Michael stays busy by washing windows and focusing on his health. “I’m looking forward to living here as long as I can,” he says. “I wouldn’t trade this for anything. This is heaven.”
Angry and feeling inadequate, John’s early bad judgments and bouts with drugs and alcohol found him at age 33 living in his car.
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