Like so many of our neighbors living on the streets, David found it difficult to trust anybody - even those who offered him a helping hand.

Our Crisis Intervention team got used to seeing him in our walk-in center nearly each morning - a small man in his 50's, disheveled and with obvious mental difficulties. Last month we grew more concerned when the days became colder and David still appeared at our door looking even more disoriented.

David's daily visits made clear he wanted to make a connection. Our center was a safe place for him. But he never stayed long, and shied away from any real conversation. While our counselors provided him with the warm clothes and food he requested, they knew to be patient - an approach that was rewarded when David began leaving notes for our front desk on various odd pieces of paper.

The words were simple, but his message came through loud and clear: David wanted a place to live. This was a huge breakthrough for him, and we got started right away. When David agreed to meet with our psychiatrist, we learned that he is a war veteran - and that he would rather sleep on the streets, no matter the weather, than go back to living with hundreds of strangers in a municipal shelter.

We're working with David to find permanent supportive housing where he feels safe, and will receive the mental health services he so desperately needs.


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