With a college degree and having served our country, it’s hard to believe that life could crumble as quickly as it did for Alberto! Now housed for close to five years, U.S. Army Veteran Alberto is overjoyed to have reconnected with his family and grandchildren after a long and arduous 20 years of homelessness in Los Angeles! A Berkeley graduate who married his high school sweetheart, he never expected his life to fall apart so quickly. In his mid 20s, Alberto was unexpectedly diagnosed with schizophrenia, and everything he worked for and believed in, crumbled.
To work with individuals like Alberto, Step Up uses the Housing First philosophy which encompasses programs and services that are directed by an individual’s self-determined goals. These include housing outreach, permanent supportive housing (PSH), engagement, mental health and drug addiction services, life skills, and job training/placement. It’s vital to meet each individual where they are to find the best treatment path leading to ongoing recovery. Each individual’s history informs the journey. In Alberto’s case, as his symptoms of schizophrenia began to emerge, he was discharged from the Army after three years. He got divorced, and his wife took their two children to Maryland. It was very difficult for Alberto to hold jobs; and after he was seriously injured in a work-related accident, he lived on the streets and used drugs and alcohol to numb his pain.
But after almost 20 years, Alberto decided he wanted help! Step Up’s Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) team began helping him work towards his goals of getting a Veteran housing voucher, moving into an apartment, and getting stable on his prescribed medication. The VASH team starts with PSH while providing ongoing supportive mental and physical health services and life skills programs. Veterans are housed at various “scattered site” units in Santa Monica and Hollywood as well as on-site at Building 209 on the West LA VA campus. Alberto is currently working with VASH Service Coordinator, Trachelle Singleton, who describes Alberto as a “model client” because he keeps his appointments, takes his medication, and has goals to work toward. Alberto says, “We have to look at what we can do positively and work towards that.”
Step Up currently provides Permanent Supportive Housing with rich wraparound case management services to over 1,480 individuals across the U.S.! Thanks to our partners and supporters, Step Up’s housing retention rate of 97% is one of the best in the nation.
Step Up’s goal by summer of 2022 is to house over 500 additional chronically homeless veterans at various sites including five additional developments in greater Los Angeles. And you can help make this goal a reality! Your support can make all the difference for over 500 of our military Veterans experiencing homelessness as you have seen by Alberto’s journey. “I understand why people end up on the streets…” said Alberto as he continues to return to talk to others on the streets and has referred three other veterans in similar situations to Step Up’s VASH programs. He knows firsthand that permanent supportive housing is the cornerstone of all Step Up’s services, rooted in evidence-based Housing First practices that get results. Housing is healthcare, leading to stability and long term recovery.
With your support, we can help end the cycle of chronic homelessness and help bring home more veterans–permanently! Please consider changing lives by making a gift today. Big or small, every gift makes a difference!