Participant Stories

Woman at door
Maryann is one of more than 450 participants in our Housing First program who was previously homeless, and is now stably housed, thanks to the support of generous donors. Here’s her story:
Person eating tacos
Navigating SEPTA tunnels and the busy sidewalks of South Philadelphia is not an unfamiliar task to David. Adventuring for him comes in the form of tacos and pad-thai. David is a part of Restaurant Club, which is a way for participants to come together to explore new cuisines while building relationships with one another. This is only one small component of integrating community inclusion practices into our programming at Pathways to Housing PA.
Alfonso smiling on his couch

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.
Robert smiling as he discusses his plans for returning to school
With the official start of fall earlier this week, we are reminded that school has started and we're entering a season of change. At Pathways to Housing PA, we are no strangers to embracing change and encouraging our participants to do so as well. A part of rebuilding and reclaiming life starts with making decisions for yourself, which can sometimes be a huge step for our participants who have spent quite a lot of time with no control over their own lives. 
2 women standing together, smiling.

Formerly Homeless Poet Shares Creative Writing Tip

Ebony Moon

by James Evans


Fields a’ Laughin’

Young man croons

stars a’ moanin’

‘Round that Ebony Moon


Lilacs smell

so sweet


In the midnight heat


Fireflies glow


A participant and staff member smile.

Art, Trauma, and Bumper Stickers


I love fall. Fall means crisp colored leaves, hot chocolate, chai lattes, and wearing my favorite sweater again. I sleep in extra in the morning, and feel a deep envy of bears, who’ve budgeted time for a long winter sleep. The deeper towards winter it gets, the more comfortable I want to be.


Transitioning into housing is not an easy thing. It’s strange that it should be that way-it seems so simple: take a person without a home, and give them a home. Problem solved. But the reality is that human beings are creatures of process, and when our participants get into housing for the first time, things can be pretty tough for them.

Harry, 59, navigates the grocery store on his cane, picking out noodles, drinks and other items. He doesn’t make any choice quickly: He scrutinizes each item, looks at the nutritional listing and compares prices. Harry said making good choices is important to him, especially after living on the streets for decades. He defines being homeless as “deciding, making choices, right from wrong and how to find help.”

Harry is glad to have now made the choice to live in an apartment, supported by a team from Pathways to Housing PA.


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