You’re a product of your environment. I grew up homeless. I was homeless as a child. I was homeless at nine. I went to 42nd st. in the 70’s, you know how that was. That’s where I grew up at. To be honest I didn't think I would make it past 25, at the rate that I was going. That is one of the reasons I turned to drugs.
I was incarcerated for 18 years. I have a bachelors degree from NYU but then I got out it got me nowhere. Every time I fill out an application they ask if you've got a felony and I say yes.
I’m a twin. We were homeless together, I would sleep he would look out, he would sleep I would look out, on the subways, you know things like that. He had HIV AIDS and Hepatitis C, but the HEP C took him. That’s an ugly death, ugly death.
I went to the 30th Street Intake Center and went through the process from 30th Street to Wards Island Shelter. I got lucky and ended up in Kenton Hall Shelter. I was there for 9-10 months. I had HEP C so I was dealing with that down at Kenton Hall. I had a bed pass the whole time I was there because extensive I needed extensive care. It takes a lot out of you. It's like chemo. One flight of steps then you are winded. I had a bed pass the whole time I was there. I was doing the treatment and I was with the nurse. It worked out pretty good. Project Renewal saved my life with that.
I did drugs for 30 years. I have medical problems. Some have to do with my drug addiction, I’m epileptic and asthmatic. My health is doing much better.
I was placed here at Renewal House and now I am ready to leave here--they got me a studio apartment with support for ex-offenders. I take the weekly groups here, the house meetings for trigger group relapse prevention. I am a peer counselor, I try to stay busy-- it keeps me going knowing that I can help someone else.
Project Renewal has been like a school for me. Hard falls but I pick up the pieces and move on. I’m not giving up. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Being independent - having my own place.