Until 10 months ago, I used substances for 40 years. I grew up poor and started using crack cocaine when I was a 12-year-old kid because my stepfather was a big time drug dealer and used to bring 10 kilos from Miami every week. We would steal drugs from him and snort them and I became addicted at a young age because they were there for the taking. Then my mom put us in a home, also around when I was 12, and there were drugs there too. I was young and had easy access and it made addiction easy.
On any given night, there are more than 6,200 homeless people in Philadelphia. Of those, more than 1,100 are sleeping outside. I was once one of those people.
I struggled with substance use and lived on the streets for more than 10 years before I came into contact with Pathways to Housing PA. I could have gone home to live with my mom but I wasn’t living right. I didn’t want to bring my problems to her. I couldn’t have gotten into a program – I was using every day.