Immigrating to a foreign country can be a harrowing experience under the best circumstances; finding yourself homeless in a new and foreign country is downright frightening. This is the reality Michael* faced for more than three years after no longer being able to afford his rent.
Michael was helped by various partners of The Way Home while he experienced homelessness. He frequently found emergency shelter at Salvation Army and Star of Hope, and received services from The Beacon. Though he was sometimes fortunate enough to receive a small amount of money from his family to buy food, it was rarely enough for anything else.
The fear of not qualifying for any programs offered by homeless service providers plagued Michael. Other people experiencing homelessness told Michael that his immigration status would keep him from receiving help. With an expired green card he feared that he would be deported if he connected with street outreach teams or other organizations.
Then, in August of 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area and Michael fled to a local disaster shelter where he was eventually referred to New Hope Housing's Residences on Emancipation Harvey relief program. It was there that he connected with Hannah, his case manager with SEARCH Homeless Services, and she made all the difference in the world to him.
"Without Hannah's persistence, I would still be on the street," says Michael. "Ms. Hannah never gave up on me." Even if they lost touch for an extended amount of time, Hannah always found Michael, determined to get him a home of his own again.
As he reflected on the past few years of his life, he said there's one thing he wants others to know about homelessness: "We are human beings too."
Even after suffering a stroke in January of this year, Michael was finally able to walk through the door of his new home in April. "When I first opened the door I couldn't believe it. I never thought it was going to be this easy," said Michael. He couldn't say enough how appreciative, grateful, and excited he is for this next chapter of his life.
* Name has been changed to protect client privacy.