Hi my name is Leslie Myers. Before making Mutual Housing at the Highlands my home in 2013, I was chronically homeless for 25-30 years. I lived on the sidewalks during the summers and sheltered at the Salvation Army during the winter. Living in the elements was a very difficult life, hard on my health, both physically and emotionally. This existence resulted in an ER visit and dependence on an oxygen concentrator. Although it was difficult, I always made sure to see my psychiatrist and meet with my therapist at Genesis, within Loaves and Fishes. This led to supportive services with Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, and an advocate helped me get on a permanent supportive housing waitlist.
Before not too long, I got word that my apartment was ready. Just before the news, I also learned of my sister’s passing, making the weight of homelessness particularly heavy. I managed to gather my belongings and get on a bus headed to North Highlands.
I remember walking to my front door, and hearing the property manager, say, “Here are your keys. I want you to open your front door for the first time.” I was so happy! I had been through several non-permanent housing communities, and this was different. THIS was my own home, and I was being treated with respect. I remember opening the door, seeing a brand new bed, a new comforter, and things for my kitchen. It was all set up! After another week or two and some difficult experiences with my sister’s memorial, my niece Sherri got keys for her nearby apartment as well.
Living here has been a beautiful change for me. I don’t have to deal with the elements. My health challenges are easier to manage and I am part of a community that watches out for one another. I like keeping busy, working toward goals, and have been able to stop drinking. I like my friends and the staff here, and I enjoy all the activities available, because life had shown me that idle hands can get people in trouble. I have been able to REALLY live life and experience a true home at Mutual Housing at the Highlands.