Seventy-year-old Tom has deep roots in Portsmouth. He was born in Portsmouth, attended Portsmouth schools, and, other than brief out-of-state stints for work in construction, has remained in Portsmouth his whole life. In fact, before he became homeless, Tom was living in Portsmouth, in the very home in which he grew up.
“I was living in my mother’s house, but she had a reverse mortgage and it fell apart. Someone else bought the house and I continued to live there while I helped the new owner fix it up. We built a second story on the house.”
Shortly after construction was completed, the new owner asked Tom to move out of his childhood home, and Tom embarked on an uncertain future. For eight months he stayed at local motels, with friends, and with family until he ran out of savings and had nowhere else to stay. That is when a friend brought Tom to Cross Roads House.
A friendly face and a helping hand
“I had no idea what it was going to be like. I figured it was the end of the earth, but it wasn’t. When I first walked in the door, I saw Patsy [Direct Care Staff Pat]. She was friends with my mother for years, but I hadn’t seen her in a long time. I’m a little bit older than her, but I remember seeing her around when I was younger. It helped to know someone. I was so shattered at that time.”
Case Manager Julia and Tom worked together, connecting with resources and filling out applications for housing, medical insurance, and other assistance.
“I didn’t realize how much you had to fill out and how much paperwork you had to go through. The applications are very long. I just figured ‘you’re over 70, you were born here, you qualify.’ Julia knew exactly what to do and she guided me right through it. If I had to do it by myself, I don’t think I would have made it.”
Home at last
Tom was excited when he got the message that he would be moving into an apartment in the Atlantic Heights development. Managed by Portsmouth Housing Authority, this development is for seniors, and is located in the same building where Tom attended elementary school.
“You have no idea how excited I am. I never thought this was going to happen. It’s clean. It’s quiet. It’s just the right size. It’s perfect.”
Tom was relieved to hear that he will be receiving ongoing support from a Cross Roads House post-shelter case manager in his new home. “There’s still a lot of stuff to fill out. It’s overwhelming and I’m elderly. It’s difficult for me trying to figure out what you need to fill out and when you need to fill it out. It’s nice to know that I’ll have someone to help me sit down and figure it out. It makes it much easier.”
Tom credits Julia for helping him find a home so quickly. “Everything was challenging when I first got here. I had never been in a situation like that before. It was a little crazy. Finding out about all these things that were available that I didn’t know about, or I had just looked at the paperwork and lost my train of thought. Julia made it a lot better. I wouldn’t have this [home] if I hadn’t come here.”