As he neared his apartment in Inkster last fall, Terry Jackson could see the flames. He was returning from days on the road as a truck driver, delivering goods, and making a living. Terry watched as the blaze, caused by faulty wiring, destroyed the place where he had been renting.
“I felt fortunate, knowing that I could have been there, asleep after a long trip, and trapped by the fire,” said Terry, 60. “I also felt worried. I didn’t want to be homeless.”
Terry went to a motel that rents by the week. He then contacted the VA. Terry is an Army veteran.
The VA referred Terry to Southwest Solutions’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. SSVF provides rental assistance and support services to help low-income veterans experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Terry began working with SSVF housing specialist Karah Adams.
“Because of the Covid crisis, moving the veterans who need our assistance into apartments has been very challenging,” said Karah, who is working remotely during the pandemic.
Terry remained in the motel for three months. SSVF paid the rent. Karah also arranged for groceries to be delivered to his door, since Terry was suffering from a bad hip that required hip-replacement surgery to stop the severe pain and allow him to resume his job as a truck driver. Terry needed to wait to have the surgery until he was in stable housing.
Terry and Karah both searched for a place for Terry to go. Terry eventually found one in northwest Detroit. It’s the first floor of a rental house. Karah spoke with the landlord to ensure that the living conditions are good.
“Terry is a self-sufficient person and he was very determined to locate housing so he could move his life forward,” Karah said.
Terry moved in on New Year’s Day. The rent is $600 a month, including utilities. SSVF is paying Terry’s rent for several months. The program also provided a bed and household goods, and is continuing to provide grocery deliveries.
A week after getting his new place, Terry had his hip-replacement. The surgery was successful, and he is making plans for his future.
“My goal is to start my own trucking company,” Terry said. “I also want to become a homeowner.”
Terry’s career as a transportation operator began when he decided to enlist in the Army and learn those skills. He was 19 years old, and his mother was very sick with a kidney ailment at the time.
“My mother asked me what I was going to do with my life to take care of myself,” Terry said. “I told her that I was going to join the service. It was my commitment to her. After I started in the Army, my mother was in the hospital in a coma, and I came home. I held her hand, and told her I kept my promise. She opened her eyes briefly. Then she passed away.”
“To this day, my mom inspires me to take charge of my life,” Terry continued. “I’ve needed help recently so I can do for myself again, and I’m thankful for all I’ve received from SSVF and Southwest Solutions so I can recover and then attain my goals.”