Chris, nearly 58 years old, has been homeless for most of his adult life. He reports that he has stayed in “every Salvation Army shelter in the country.” He lost a leg in a car accident many years ago. When he found himself in Austin two years ago, he immediately located a church, and was soon allowed to pitch his tent on the grounds in return for “watching out for vandals and teenagers.”
He lived in his tent, reading voraciously and interacting with people very little, until he had a series of mild strokes. Somehow he managed to get himself up a hill and to the street where he was noticed. An ambulance was called, and Chris was admitted to the South Austin Hospital. From there he was admitted to the Front Steps’ Recuperative Care program.
He stated that he did not think he could return to his tent and adequately care for himself any longer, and thus began a brand new stage of his life. Though he was quite people-wary and more than a little eccentric, Chris was very quick to see the positive in everything and everyone. He was overwhelmed by the services available to him like food stamps, ID and birth certificate assistance, transportation assistance, dental services, and case management.
When Chris first came to the Recuperative Care program, he did not remember his Social Security number and says he had been told by the police that he “didn’t need one anyway.” With great determination, the RCP case manager finally obtained Chris’s Social Security number, and with that he was able to get an ID and apply for housing, disability benefits (for which he has been approved), and many other services.
He now has his own wheelchair and is living in Front Steps’ transitional housing with his own bedroom. He shows his gratitude by leaving bags of chips or cookies on his case managers’ desk at every opportunity, and he says that he feels he has “rejoined the human race.”