Overcoming homelessness and addiction: Darryl’s story

January 21st, 2020
Darryl in his Detroit apartment

Three years ago at Christmas, Darryl E. was desperate. He had received his disability check two days before, but had blown it all on drugs. Because of his habit, he had fallen behind on his rent and was facing eviction.

Darryl thought about his year of homelessness before he got his apartment. He had lived in vacant houses and his battered car. When the car finally broke down, it was towed away. All the possessions he had left went with it. He broke down, too. He went to a shelter and treatment center for four months. He stopped using. Darryl then received a housing subsidy through CAM Detroit and Southwest Solutions. It seemed like a new start. But old habits die hard. The addiction returned and reigned his will.

On that Christmas three years ago, Darryl dialed the substance-abuse hotline and cried for help. He was told there was a treatment bed available, but he would have to commit to it immediately. Darryl spent a month in treatment. He has been clean and sober since that decisive call.

Back in his apartment, and determined to change his life, Darryl was more receptive to the guidance offered by clinical housing specialist Christine Carbeck, with Southwest Solutions.

“That relationship was so important for my success,” Darryl said. “It strengthened my willingness to accept help and also to give help. I am very appreciative of Southwest Solutions for the opportunity to gain and keep a stable place so I could eventually figure out my own direction.”

Christine helped arrange for Darryl to catch up on his rent and avoid eviction by paying a bit extra per month. She also connected him with community resources to address his needs. Darryl has been attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings every day and now helps to facilitate certain NA meetings and encourage others to take control of their future.

“For too long, I didn’t show up for life,” said Darryl, who is 49. “My life was a wreck. I just existed and wasted time, neglecting my responsibilities. I know now that there is so much more to life and I need to make up for the harm I’ve done.”

Darryl became involved with drugs when he was 15. That’s when he dropped out of school, and when his son Corey was born. To help support Corey, Darryl started dealing drugs. A few years later, he started experimenting with them.

In addition to Corey, Darryl has two other grown sons. He also had a daughter who was killed by a drunk driver when she was 18.

Corey is now in prison. Darryl hopes to help Corey get his life together when he is released in six months.

Darryl always keeps his Bible close at hand. One of his favorite passages is Matthew 6:33-34.

“I feel somewhat responsible for what has happened to Corey,” Darryl said. “My faith tells me that God has forgiven me, but it’s still hard to forgive myself. I need to be there for my children and show them that there is a better way than the hard road I took.”

When he was 18, Darryl earned his GED and completed vocational training. He got a job as a welder and worked until 2012, when he was in a severe car accident that damaged his back and knees. Two years later, he went on disability.

Darryl still hopes to work and be financially independent. He has started a little moving business. He drives the truck and his sons do the physical work to earn some extra income to supplement the full-time jobs they have.

“It’s good, honest work, and I’d love to invest more in the business and grow it,” Darryl said. “I’m setting positive goals to reach so I won’t get stuck and complacent. I’d also love to become a homeowner one day.”

To help meet these goals, Darryl has taken a homebuyer workshop at Southwest Solutions and met with a financial coach there.

Because of the progress he has made, Darryl has been invited to participate in the Consumer Advisory Council for counseling programs at Southwest Solutions.

“Darryl is a disciplined and self-reflective individual who sincerely wants to help others so they can overcome homelessness, addiction, and other hardships, just like he has,” said Dan Wood, a clinical housing specialist at Southwest Solutions who now works with Darryl.

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