To most people it was just a downtown bridge, a simple structure to walk or drive across. To me it was much more than that. For nearly three years it was my home. I had been plagued by poor health and addiction problems, living a lonely day‑to‑day existence under the bridge. I had a tiny, one‑man tent that I slept in all year round, rain or shine. After three years it was dirty and in need of repair, leaking water and torn, but it was the only shelter I had.
A social worker encouraged me to find housing. I knew I couldn’t live in a shelter. The environment at most is too unstable. I’d rather take my chances under my bridge. However, she encouraged me to apply to Wilkinson Housing and Support Services as part of the supportive housing programs at LOFT Community Services. I decided to try and this decision changed my life. After I finally found my way into Wilkinson, it took months for the blisters on my feet (from walking without proper shoes to find food in all kinds of weather) to heal and allow me to walk properly. And the toll of my prolonged homelessness wasn’t just physical. After sleeping in a small tent for so long, I found this new larger surroundings so intimidating that I slept in a closet.
Thankfully I received counselling for addictions and mental health issues at LOFT. I have been living in supportive housing for nearly a year now. My physical and emotional health has improved immensely. I am mobile and actively contribute to my home.
I have been able to finally develop friendships and relate to others on a meaningful level. I live independently and am constantly meeting and exceeding challenges. This may seem like a small accomplishment, but I am now able to go to the grocery store, purchase food using my own income, and prepare meals for myself. For someone who survived for years by eating scraps and other people’s garbage this seems like a remarkable achievement. I’ve also been able to develop interests. I enjoy going for walks outside and reading some books.
For me, a guy who once lived under a bridge, my life is finally much happier.