In one word: Melinda.
Melinda is the reason we do what we do. She’s a 56-year-old woman whose home for 14 years was a cardboard box in Downtown San Diego. She was forced into prostitution and beaten repeatedly on the street.
She suffers from a variety of diseases and conditions, including alcoholism, liver disease, pancreatitis, Hepatitis C and untreated bipolar disorder.
It should be a surprise to no one that she was a high-frequency user of services – in fact; she was seen in the emergency room 16 times in one year.
Melinda was assessed during Blitz Week 2012 and scored a four out of a possible eight on the Vulnerability Index. That is an extremely high score for someone who is still alive. It is not an over-exaggeration to say that she would have very likely died if she remained on the street.
But the good news is she didn’t remain on the street – and she didn’t die. Melinda received permanent housing from the San Diego Housing Commission and was connected to mental health services through the County Health and Human Services Agency’s Behavioral Health Services.
Melinda has been housed successfully for two years and just completed her outpatient treatment program. She is working to become a Peer Support Advocate.
Melinda is more than just a success story. She is real person who needed help. Was it luck that we found her when we did? No, it was planning, collaboration and hard work.
OK, and maybe a little luck.
We’ve housed more than 1,150 formerly homeless people since 2010. That’s a number worth celebrating! But we must always remember: As long as there are more Melindas out there, our job is not done.
This newsletter is a tribute to the 60 amazing and selfless partners who make up the Leadership Team of the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego. So let’s take a moment to celebrate our accomplishments. Let’s reflect on Melinda and those like her whom we’ve yet to find.
And then let’s get back to work.