Your generosity supports participants like Vernon

  • Vernon with his hands up in the air, happy

Pathways to Housing PA relies on the generosity of our community, and people like you, to continue our mission of providing homes, restoring health, and reclaiming lives. Your support this holiday season will directly impact people with disabilities who are struggling with homelessness in Philadelphia. Vernon is one such individual. 

On a September afternoon, Vernon received keys to his new home after 18 years of living on the streets. That’s 18 years of waking up in a new place, not knowing where you’ll sleep that night, where your next meal will come from, or how long you’ll go before your next shower. Vernon, along with the hundreds of others who are currently sleeping unsheltered across Philadelphia, did not feel safe or secure. He was in a constant state of anxiety, remaining alert and aware to ensure his own safety. 

Following almost two decades of instability, Vernon has come to appreciate the feeling of safety his apartment affords him. “I can actually go to sleep and be able to shut my eyes. For years I couldn’t really sleep, now I can sleep for real. I remember having to find somewhere to go, because it was cold, or it was raining. Man, I remember sleeping in snow,” he says.

Vernon ended up living on the streets due to unstable and non-existent housing while he faced several other challenges, including a substance use disorder. While he was finally able to gain control of his substance use disorder in 2006, he found that staying clean without housing was almost impossible. When a long time outreach connection told Vernon about Pathways, he was initially unimpressed. “He kept telling me it was a good program, but you know I’d heard that so many times. This is the first program that said they’d help me get an apartment, and then did exactly what they said.

Vernon still has a lot of adjusting to do; housing is exciting but it is also a major life change. It takes a lot of courage and faith to take those keys and walk through the front door. We asked Vernon if he had any advice for people still living unsheltered and he started to tear up. “There are truly a lot of beautiful people in the world,” he told us. “Reach out to somebody; people will help you.

As you may already know, we use a Housing First model to help people with disabilities who have experienced chronic homelessness. Participants are placed into housing immediately, without preconditions and 85% remain housed after five years. But stepping through that door is just the beginning.

At Pathways, we know that Housing First is more than a home. It is comprehensive services to support people exiting homelessness as they achieve better health and reclaim their lives. With every key comes hours of life skills support, food shopping assistance, financial management, and solving maintenance issues. We know that the joy of having a key comes with the responsibility of a home.

To provide someone a home for the first time in years is a privilege. Pathways takes on the added responsibility of ensuring that each and every participant, including Vernon, have the support needed to be successful once housed.

We could not do what we do without the generosity of our supporters. Please make a gift today by clicking here.


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