You will often hear those of us who work here at Journey Home say that homelessness can happen to anyone. We say it because we have witnessed the truth of that statement. Case in point, meet Wallace Rosser. Wallace is 54 and has been homeless since 2014. Previous to being homeless, Mr. Rosser worked as a roofer for a local roofing company. He had his own apartment, his own bed, his own couch, his own place to call home. He had all of that until one fateful day at work.
Wallace took a very serious fall while roofing. He fell 25 feet to the ground below and injured his wrist, back, and leg. Physically, Wallace was never the same. The injuries left permanent damage causing him to have to constantly use a cane to walk. After the fall, Wallace’s life took a turn for the worst. He was unable to regain employment and eventually lost his apartment. Wallace found himself with little to no support from family and friends. He was without the safety net that many of us have. Although he has a very close relationship with his mother, he was not able to reside with her as she lives in a subsidized unit for disabled persons that did not allow anyone else to share her apartment with her.
Wallace was left with one choice — he had to explore the shelter system in Hartford. For three years, he bounced from shelter to shelter. When he was unable to obtain shelter for the night he slept outside. In one of his conversations with Kelly Gonzalez, Journey Home Peer Specialist, he said, “I slept anywhere I could lay my head down. I slept in bank portals, by church steps, under the bridge, bus shelters and bus stations.” Like many people who live unsheltered, Wallace experienced a lot of misfortunes. He was robbed, assaulted, and harassed.
Kelly began to work with Wallace, and although he was quite hard to locate as he slept in different places daily, thankfully, Kelly was able to quickly get a bed for him at McKinney Shelter in Hartford and she also began working on gathering all of his identifying documents as they were stolen during a robbery.
Before long, his life was really beginning to stabilize with just a little extra assistance and some concentrated attention.
Kelly and Wallace worked diligently together to obtain all of his documents. Because someone believed in him, he began to really believe in himself. What seemed insurmountable before, became possible. They obtained his medical records which then allowed them to apply for a new Social Security card. Once they obtained his Social Security card, Kelly went with him to New Britain City Hall and assisted him with getting his birth certificate. From there, they went to the Department of Motor Vehicles so he could apply for his official State ID. Soon after that trip to the DMV, Wallace received his State ID in the mail. Christmas had come early! Wallace was filled with incredible joy and a sense of deep gratitude.
On August 25th, Wallace was document ready and was officially placed on the list for a housing opportunity. On September 12th, Wallace was referred to Community Renewal Team and officially moved into his new place in October. Three years of homelessness had finally come to an end.
Wallace wouldn’t be where he is today without our supporters. We can’t do this work without all of you. There is so much that goes into housing just one person. For someone who is chronically homelessness, it is definitely not as simple as just getting a key to a new place. There are lots of steps and having the support of someone like Kelly really is the difference between finding a home or remaining homeless. Thank you for allowing us to hire people like Kelly Gonzalez. Without housing navigation and outreach coordination we would not be able to witness the steady decline we have witnessed in reducing chronic homelessness over these last three years. We are all deeply grateful for your support.