Hear Our Stories
Success Stories from Housing Initiatives
Mike was a war journalist in the 82nd airborne division during the first golf war, where he developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After returning home, he lost his job, and in turn, lost his home because of his struggle with PTSD. He was homeless for three years trying to manage his PTSD. Mike was eligible for veteran benefits, but got lost in the overwhelming bureaucracy of the Veteran’s Assistance Department, which is all too common.
“Worrying about where I was going to sleep or how I’d find my next meal, plus the PTSD, was all-consuming. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t find my way off the streets.”
Finally, Mike found Housing Initiatives and a permanent home. At Housing Initiatives, we assisted Mike in accessing the federal benefits and counseling support that he deserved. After living with Housing Initiatives for four years, Mike has turned his life around.
“The number one step in my healing was having a permanent roof over my head. Once I had a home, I focused on getting counseling and I’ve now found my way out of the dark tunnel. I’m able to pay my bills, I’ve begun to volunteer for therapy programs to help other vets, and I am working my way towards a job. Soon, I’ll likely leave Housing Initiatives because I’ll be emotionally and financially stable again.”
Erik successfully graduated St. Olaf College in chemistry and french literature and lived abroad in France several times. After college, he was hired in an environmental chemistry lab. Erik suddenly began to suffer from hallucinations and mental illness shortly after taking the job. He was laid off and asked to leave the housing coop he helped start and had been living in. Erik found himself jobless, homeless, confused, and very sick. For 10 years, Erik had 15-16 hospital visits and was in and out of institutions trying to manage his mental illness. It was a nightmare. Two years ago, Housing Initiatives took Erik in.
“Housing Initiatives is my saving grace. I love living here. It’s a quiet, safe place where I’ve been able to heal my mind.”
Erik’s life has dramatically changed since coming to Housing Initiatives. After being in and out of hospitals for 10 years, he’s been recognized as a Backyard Hero for his volunteering with the local Sierra Club, he’s enrolled in a computer assistance training program at Madison College, and he’ll begin seeking employment this December.
“Housing Initiatives allows people to be as good as they possibility can be. They give people a stable foundation to succeed in life. I just keep getting better and better. I would be on the street or in a hospital if it weren’t for Housing Initiatives.”
Cassey found herself in a nightmare situation. She was pregnant, homeless, and without any family support. With the help of Housing Initiatives and another local agency, Cassey was able to receive rent assistance to afford a home in Madison, where rent is incredibly high.
Cassey’s children, Tyler and Derek, are now 11 and 9. The kids are healthy and happy, with Tyler on the school honor role and Derek excelling at reading and language.
Cassey continues her battle with mental illness, but life is much better for her and her children with a stable, safe home.
“Housing Initiatives means a lot to me and my kids. My home is near the school and it’s a safe neighborhood. I can’t imagine where we’d be without Housing Initiatives. I’m very grateful.”
Articles on HSC’s Good Works
Finding solutions for Madison’s homeless in Madison Magazine
Homelessness: The long road home in Madison Magazine
Madison, Dane County move slowly on big responses to homelessness in Wisconsin State Journal