“The doors are opening.”
For two years, Jeff Falconer could describe himself in three words: homeless, confused, and miserable. After a mugging left him with a traumatic brain injury, Jeff woke up in a Houston hospital having lost six weeks of his life. He also learned that day that he was HIV-positive.
“I took my old life for granted,” Jeff admits. After the injury, he had to learn how to walk again and perform basic tasks. He couldn’t think straight, and he was soon in debt with hospital bills. After moving to Austin to go to rehabilitation, Jeff was introduced to ASA through a friend. “I was fortunate to find great doctors and resources.”
However, being homeless took a great emotional toll on Jeff. “You need your place,” he explains. “It’s the cornerstone of your existence.” At the same time, Jeff says, “I was petrified to get out on my own.”
At ASA, Jeff connected with the BSS+ program which, combined with Medicare and disability assistance, helped him move from the shelter into his own place. “I left ASA, walked down the street and asked if they had an apartment available.” As luck would have it, the building had exactly a single unit left.
That day, Jeff not only set up his apartment but started to take the steps he needed to become independent. He was able to manage his time better and control when he woke up, ate, and went to bed. “[Next], I had to force myself out of the house to meet people.”
With the encouragement of several staff members, Jeff joined the Healthy Relationships Program. “It’s fantastic. I’ve met guys from every socioeconomic level, every background.” The program has helped him connect with a new community.
Jeff’s immediate goal involves getting a job to become financially independent. “I feel mentally able to take these next steps,” he exclaims. “What I really like about ASA is all the [people] in my life: a good group of people.”
Long gone are the days of being homeless, confused, and miserable. Now, Jeff describes his life with three completely different words. “Liberated, safe, secure.”