Ronald used to have his own home. He used to have a family, with a wife and one son. He used to work in construction. Times were good.
However, at the turn of the century, things quickly went south. Life happened.
“I went through a divorce and some rough times, so things went downhill in my life,” said Ronald, who is 64 years old.
It would take nearly two decades for things to get better, and Ronald had become accustomed to homelessness.
“I’ve walked the streets, slept on benches, in between bushes, everywhere,” Ronald added.
A Louisville native, Ronald isn’t alone. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, nearly 1,200 people experience homelessness every night in Louisville. With roughly 800 shelter spots—depending on inclement weather situations—that leaves 400 people left looking for somewhere to stay.
For those who make their way to St. Vincent de Paul Louisville, many report their homeless situations prior as coming from an emergency shelter, hotel, places not meant for habitation (such as cars, parks, sidewalks, or abandoned buildings), a hospital, psychiatric or substance abuse facility, staying with a friend or family member, or jail.
That’s where Ronald found himself in 2018, where he spent five months in jail. When he got out, it was “hard,” and the only thing he knew to do was to figure out ways to survive on the streets.
After calling Metro United Way’s 2-1-1 help referral service line—as we are the number one service provider for its call center in the Louisville area—he was able to secure a bed at Ozanam Inn Men’s Emergency Shelter.
After a few months on the waiting list, Ronald received a housing voucher. Since July 2018, he has lived in a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen, living room, and bathroom. It’s the stability he has needed to turn his life around.
“It’s been everything,” he said. “I’m on a fixed income, so this helps me out a whole lot. I’d probably be in a shelter or still be on the Section 8 waiting list.”
Ronald’s apartment is a part of the Collaborative Housing Initiative (CHI), which is one of our five off-campus housing programs. CHI provides permanent supportive housing to 46 homeless individuals and families where at least one member of the household has a disability. Currently, these 46 total units (ranging from one-bedroom to five-bedroom residences) provide a minimum of 63 beds, but we often provide 80 to 100 beds when serving larger families.
“Ronald has had his share of ups and downs, but hardly lets anything get to him,” said Johnetta Hardin, the CHI Senior Case Manager. “He always looks to a brighter day. He works hard at completing his daily living goals, such as making sure his bills are paid on time and ensuring his transportation for the following month is secured. He makes and keeps his medical appointments independently and never needs reminders or help with anything. I’m proud of his progress in the SVDP program.”
Ronald has breathing problems, and is in and out of doctor appointments. He primarily rode the bus to make it to his appointments, but he recently purchased a red 2004 Honda Pilot through our vehicle donation program. He saved up money over the past year and says it “saves a lot of time.” Ronald regularly goes to the Food Pantry on our Shelby Park campus to receive groceries
He also reconciled with his son, and now enjoys spending time with his two grandchildren.
For Ronald and others, to be able to have a place to stay, a means of transportation, and meaningful relationships makes a world of difference in their lives!