RESIDENT SUCCESS STORIES

Freddie – Sakowitz

Compassion + Action = Peace

When Freddie was growing up in Houston’s Fifth Ward, just around the corner from New Hope Housing’s 2424 Sakowitz property, he had his eye on a better life.

“All of us have dreams,” Freddie says. “I wanted to get out of the ghetto.”

And after a stint in the Army, he set about making his dream come true.

“I had it all,” he says. “A good job, a house in the suburbs, three wonderful kids, a beautiful wife. Then I introduced crack cocaine. I thought it was harmless, but I lost my family and everything I had. I just walked away from it.”

For 20 years, Freddie spiraled down. When he hit rock bottom, he was crashing in a friend’s rundown rent house and doing minor car repairs to pick up just enough money to feed his habit.

“I was broken mentally, physically and spiritually,” he says.

When Freddie was arrested for the fifth time, he was assigned to the STAR (Success Through Addiction Recovery) Drug Court program for repeat offenders, which includes strict rehab for 90 days. It was the break he needed, and it turned his life around.

After he was released, Freddie found a job and stayed in efficiency apartments that he describes as “concrete cubbyholes.” But when he lost his job, his age and drug convictions got in the way of finding another. When Freddie became eligible for Social Security at 62, he moved into Sakowitz.

“I fell in love with it here,” he says. “I like the landscaping, and it’s so bright and clean. It’s great to be able to go into my room and have some privacy to listen to my old friends Otis Redding, Sam Cook, and Sam and Dave.”

“For some people, New Hope is a stepping stone, but I’m happy right here.”

Frank – Canal 

Compassion + Action = Pride

Homelessness, depression, chronic illness, divorce, money problems – it seems like Frank has had bad breaks at every juncture. But through it all, his love for his two sons has remained constant.

“Everything that’s ever been close to me, I’ve lost, except my boys,” he says. “They’re the most important things in the world to me.”

In 1984, after four years in the Army, Frank flipped a coin and ended up in Houston. He found a job in a warehouse and started to work his way up. Marriage and two sons followed closely. But he was caught by surprise when his wife left, throwing him into an emotional tailspin that cost his job.

Frank had custody of his two young sons, but it was not easy. He managed to keep the boys with him during the first episode of homelessness, but when the second came he was forced to send them to live with their mother.

In 2006, Frank was diagnosed with diabetes. His declining health made it even more difficult to keep a job, especially after he started requiring insulin shots. Finally, several of his toes were surgically removed, causing him to need a wheelchair. 

After surgery, Frank lived at Harmony House for a year, where he now works as a resident assistant in the Tuberculosis Recovery Center. They told him about New Hope Housing, and he jumped at the opportunity for an affordable place of his own. 

Through it all, Frank and his sons, both in the Army now, remained close. 

“Three things keep me stable: my sons, my church and New Hope,” Frank says. “From day one, I’ve been glad I moved here. It’s clean, and you get so much for the money. I’m so proud to have my own place, and I think my sons are proud of me too.”

Sara – Sakowitz

Compassion + Action = A better road

The shadow of addiction clouds the lives of many New Hope Housing residents. Alcohol, drugs or harmful relationships can twist lives toward sadness and loss. 

For Sara, it was life on the road.

“I’ve been drifting for decades,” she says. “Once it gets in your blood, it’s hard to kick – just like an addiction. Even now, I’m constantly thinking about where I’d like to go.”

Sara has lost track of all the places she’s been. She hitchhiked or splurged on bus fare, patching together scraps of money she earned working in laundromats, delivering circulars or shelving books in libraries. Some of her memories are sweet, like the five years she spent in Flagstaff, the scenery in Washington and the history in Philadelphia. Others are heartbreaking, especially the son she gave up at birth in Louisiana.

When she first started drifting, Sara was pushed from a moving 18-wheeler, which did major damage to her knees. As the injury and the years on the road started to catch up with her, Sara found it more and more difficult to keep up the vagabond life.

Two years ago, Sara drifted to Houston looking for a warm place to survive the winter. After she spent six months at the Star of Hope, they referred her to New Hope, where she continues to receive services through Star of Hope’s New Haven program.

The old injury torments her, forcing her to use a cane. But she is a voracious reader and enjoys surfing the Internet in the computer center.

“New Hope was here for me when I needed it the most,” she says. “It means so much to have a place of my own, something I haven’t had in years. 

“I’ve had my share of troubles, and the road still calls me sometimes. But I’m happy here.”