Emil - Engagement
Last year, SEARCH's Mobile Outreach team met Emil, who had lost his right leg and all of the toes on his left foot several years before. A special bond formed immediately between Emil and SEARCH’s Outreach Specialist, Jess. Since that first encounter, Jess began connecting Emil to various services and resources at SEARCH and throughout the community. One of SEARCH's Disability Specialists helped Emil apply for and obtain Social Security benefits.
Because of Emil's physical limitations, Jess contacted the Houston Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) for help transporting Emil to medical and mental health appointments, shelters, and more. A team full of compassion and determination formed between SEARCH’s Mobile Outreach Team, SEARCH Disability Team, and HPD's HOT Team to help this sweet, caring gentleman named Emil. With the collective efforts of this team, Emil was able to obtain his Texas identification, was connected with much-needed medical treatment and mental health services, and most importantly, Emil was placed in housing and is no longer living on the streets. It truly takes a village.
Saundra - Employment
Saundra had it all – a well-paying job, a home of her own, good friends, and a family with whom she was close. Four years ago, she lost it all to alcoholism. Living in a homeless shelter, she felt depressed, hopeless, and alone...until she found SEARCH.
With hard work and determination, Saundra got a job as a certified flagger for a local traffic control company. SEARCH helped her realize her dream of getting back to work and into her own home again. Today, Saundra supervises 51 flaggers, continues to be sober after four years, and remains a woman of deep faith. Saundra's greatest joy is the reconnection with her daughter and granddaughter after many years apart and knowing how proud they are of her.
George S. - Housing
George S. had been homeless and living on the streets for three years. During that time, George tried to get housing but was never able to complete the process on his own. Several months ago, George heard about the city’s Coordinated Access system, got assessed for housing, and was assigned to a case manager at SEARCH. Earlier this month, George was elated to move into his very own apartment.
After being homeless for so long, it was an adjustment just sleeping in his own bed. George laughed about the first nights in his apartment. "It wasn't easy getting used to sleeping in my own bed again. I was used to sleeping on the ground and people waking me up all the time. This is new for me!" George is also enjoying something that he hasn't been able to do for a very long time – cooking his own food. "My family taught me how to cook, and I missed so much the food I had growing up. Now, I can make all that again." When speaking about SEARCH, George couldn't hold back the tears. "God is good, and God bless all SEARCH has done for me. They believed in me. Thank you so much."
Brenda - Housing
Homelessness can happen to anyone. Brenda has a degree in psychology from the University of Texas. Yet after losing her job and a series of unfortunate events, Brenda found herself homeless and living in a shelter. For Brenda, SEARCH was "exactly what I needed." Through SEARCH, Brenda was able to get back into a home of her own and has successfully maintained that housing for two years. Wanting to give back and help others, Brenda is going back to school to become a music therapist.
Byron - Housing
When Byron was released from jail after a long, intense history of incarceration, he was homeless. Byron applied for housing through a jail diversion program. Because Byron had no phone, he stayed on the streets near SEARCH so he could be in close touch with his case manager, and he stopped by several times each week to see her. Four months later, Byron moved into his new home.
When Byron's case manager asked him how he had stayed clean and sober, out of trouble, and out of jail while waiting for housing, Byron said, "Ms. Divya, you are working so hard all the time to get me an apartment. You are doing so much for me. I was a nobody; nobody ever called me by my name. I was just some homeless bum off the street whose second home was jail, and no one ever cared for me the way you did. So how can I possibly let you down? You inspired me and motivated me to get where I am today."
Jhonathan B. - Housing
Disconnected from his family and let go from his part-time job - Jhonathan B., 21, found himself homeless. With SEARCH's help, after a year and a half of being homeless, Jhonathan opened the door to his new apartment.
What does this mean to Jhonathan? Jhonathan states "It feels good now that I don’t have to deal with anyone trying to steal my things now that I have a door with a lock on it." He was also overjoyed to finally have the opportunity to "shower whenever he wants to." After having a place to call home, Jhonathan expressed his desire to find a job to help him get back on his feet.
Keina - Housing
A single mother at only 19 years old, Keina is determined to provide a better life for herself and her 4-month old son. Keina's troubles started when her family lost their home in Hurricane Katrina. Eventually placed into the custody of CPS, Keina found herself homeless again after aging out of the foster care system. Keina was living at a shelter when she found SEARCH. Struggling with a learning disability, Keina relied heavily on SEARCH to help her navigate the complex and overwhelming process of obtaining housing. With SEARCH’s help and support, Keina is now in a home of her own and is working to graduate high school. Keina has promised her case manager that "Failure is not an option!"
John L. - Housing
John L. had been homeless for over 26 years. After being incarcerated for drunk driving, he was left with nothing. Upon his release from prison, he took a bus to Houston and found himself homeless and alone. He built an encampment, cared for his eight cats, and collected cans for money. While it wasn't an ideal situation, it was home, and so he refused housing assistance from many agencies. In 2009, his encampment was torn down, and he was left with nothing yet again.
At 69 years of age, John realized that he finally needed some help and was ready to “go inside.” John reached out to the HPD Homeless Outreach Team and was referred to SEARCH. His case managers at SEARCH, in collaboration with our community partners, helped John navigate the complex and often overwhelming process of applying for, obtaining, and moving into permanent housing. In less than a month’s time, John was able to move into an apartment of his own.
John admits that it has been an adjustment to live in a home after so many years of living on the streets. He is finding new ways to stay busy and productive and is grateful that he will never again have to sleep in the rain.
Wendi - HTT/Education
Wendi found herself homeless with four young girls after fleeing an abusive relationship. Battling severe mental illness and trying to cope, Wendi felt lost, alone, and hopeless. Then she found SEARCH and the House of Tiny Treasures. With her three youngest girls enrolled at the House of Tiny Treasures, Wendi was able to take the steps she needed to turn their lives around.
Fast forward (seven) years later. After earning three degrees at community college with a 4.0 grade average, Wendi is now a supervisor at a growing Fortune 5000 company. She is attending the University of Houston on a full academic scholarship to get a degree in management.