Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CityWalk Offers Opportunity for Change

As I've mentioned before, CityWalk is comprised of 200 apartment units. 100 units are reserved for formerly or at-risk of homelessness. The other 100 units are income-based housing where you can't make more than $29,000/year. Part of Community Life's role in that is to ensure that the 100 units of people who are formerly or potentially homeless are moving forward and connecting to the resources they need, whether that be the doctor who visits our building once a week, the mental health services that come every other week, the "Discover You" class, Bible study, cooking classes and cooking socials, Cowboy games, Tenant's Association meetings, etc.
Three months ago, we created a plan for how we would do "case management" (we are working on a better term...like "accompaniment" because people aren't a "case" and we're not lording over them to "manage" them...but right now it's the best we have). We ask people to tell us where they are on 10 aspects of their lives:
Motivation and Taking Responsibility Self-Care and Living Skills Managing Money Social Network and Relationships Drug and Alcohol Misuse Physical Health Emotional and Mental Health Meaningful Use of Time Managing Tenancy and Accommodation Offending
So far, we've met with 38 individuals who are either moving into CityWalk or are already there. That's nearly 40% of our goal, which is exciting!! More importantly than a numbers goal is what I'm learning and noticing as a result of our conversations with people.
As I waited for the next individual to arrive yesterday, I heard voices in the hallway. Conversation. Neighbors talking as they waited for the elevator. I knew at least one of the voices and, about two weeks ago, she wasn't willing to talk to many people. In fact, she seemed rather appalled by the people around her. Now she's participating in events and having conversations at the elevators. People are getting to know one another.
Once the person arrived, I was interested to talk to him. We've had a few incident reports on him, more so when I first got there about seven months ago. More recently, I have noticed he isn't as visible, nor as loud. Over the last few months, I have noticed the reports have decreased on him. I was anxious to get connected with him so we could know him better. He told us about going to school at the local community college and how that is his main focus. He explained that before he arrived at CityWalk, he was selling crack. He had gotten roughed up pretty bad and his parents had helped him get into CityWalk. Having his own place changed everything. He enrolled in school and is completely and totally dedicated to that. He's currently making a 3.8...though he's working to improve that this semester. He still has a beer or two a day, but only after classes are done for the day. He said he learned not to drink before classes after having a drink with his buddy before class and then ended up getting a pop quiz in class where he made a 44%. (I guess that gave him real live proof that alcohol impairs abilities.) He's aware of his triggers and the things that could bring him down...like too much time on his hands and too much money in his pocket.
As we moved to the goal-setting portion, we talked about some things he had mentioned. It's obvious he has already made progress without us, but I was excited to hear him sound excited about working with us as he moved further along in his progression. Though I always speak to him and say hi as we come and go, as I left yesterday evening we had a little more substantial conversation. He said he was really excited about moving forward and having someone to walk alongside him to accomplish that. Then he jokingly (but halfway seriously) challenged me about what my goals were for the weekend and if I was going to accomplish my checklist and goals. I assured him I would try.
I'm excited to say that this weekend I *did* accomplish most of my goals...thanks to him pushing me a little as well. Sometimes that little extra accountability can do wonders. I look forward to telling him about it.
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