From Jaded to Joyful: Justin’s Amazing Housing Story
Last Updated: 17 May 2022
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Building trust is key with people who have been disappointed so many times. Justin is an amazing example of a client who went from jaded to joyful.
Our Supportive Services for Veterans and their Families (SSVF) and corresponding programs rapidly re-house and prevent homelessness among eligible Veterans and their families.
Notice that eligible is a key word here. So what if a Veteran doesn’t qualify? Our El Paso Veterans Housing Program (funded with a collaboration with the City of El Paso) was created to assist clients who do not qualify for our SSVF programs in the El Paso area. The goal is to close the gap in housing services for these high barrier clients.
Our case managers for this program met Justin in early 2022. At the time, he was living in a ditch behind a local shopping center. The smell of the nearby dumpsters wafted by the tent where he lived with his service dog, Patches.
This wasn’t a new situation for Justin. He had been experiencing homelessness for 27 years.
A Veteran, Justin struggled to find a full-time job—without a car, a cell phone, or regular access to a shower (among other basic amenities), it was nearly impossible for him to find a place in the community.
Jaded Against Empty Promises
Though he had tried to work with other service organizations previously, Justin had grown jaded to what he felt were empty promises. He had worked with a case worker who failed to follow through with his words. “They were always promising me things, but then they would never call me back,” he said, according to his Endeavors case manager, Yohana Duarte.
So when Duarte initially made contact with Justin and explained all that this particular SSVF-related program offers (emergency financial assistance, one-on-one case management services, mental health resources, and more), he was incredibly hesitant to believe her.
“He felt like all of this was too good to be true,” Duarte said. “He would say, ‘You guys are all talk.’ He didn’t believe we’d follow through.”
But Duarte and other Endeavors employees continued to build trust with Justin by staying in communication and following up without fail.
“I started building that rapport and that trust with him on the first day that we met,” Duarte said. “He’s been, you know, in his situation for 27 years on and off, and he hasn’t had that level of attention and that level of care from anybody.”
It took Justin about a week to open up about his needs. Ultimately, it felt too risky for him to get his hopes up that he would be housed. He didn’t feel like he could face disappointment again when the promises proved to be false.
Opening Up to New Possibilities
However, about a week after making contact with Justin, Duarte explained to him that he still had just enough time to qualify for a supportive housing program.
He decided he was willing to risk being disappointed for the sake of finding a home.
“I explained to him that the program provided rental assistance, case management, household supplies, and so much more. And he was ready.”
The best part? We found him an apartment by the end of the week.
Immediately, we went to work finding Justin basic household furniture and supplies. We partnered with another nonprofit in El Paso to provide a bed, comforter, microwave, pots and pans, shower curtains and towels, cleaning supplies, and other essentials. We even found dog food for Patches.
“We don’t just place people in empty homes. A little bit of comfort goes a long way. It was such a smooth transition,” she said.
Justin was amazed. “He said, ‘I’m really thankful that you care so much that you don’t want to place me in an empty space,’” Duarte said.
A Job Gives Justin a Chance
Though we do provide rental assistance to folks in our SSVF programs, the most important thing is making sure they have a sustainable income and career path so they can ultimately support themselves.
Up to this point, Justin had had a very hard time finding employment. “Because of the life he’s lived and the way he looks, he often gets discriminated against,” explained Duarte. “They see Patches with him, and it’s an automatic ‘No.’”
So after moving into his new apartment, it was time to find Justin a job…which we did, immediately.
“The day he moved in, I was actually able to get him a job,” Duarte said. She contacted locally-owned restaurants and found one that was Veteran-owned. After an interview with Justin, they decided to hire him.
“He called me, super excited,” Duarte said. “He was on the brink of tears. He said, ‘They gave me a chance.’”
Building Trust Is Key
We are honored that Justin decided to take a chance and trust Endeavors after experiencing so much disappointment.
“I think as an agency, Endeavors very much has a client-centered culture, and bringing that into everything that we do and every person that we touch surpasses many challenges and barriers,” Duarte said.
As a part of this client-first approach, Duarte knew that honesty and transparency would be key. If she wanted to build trust, she would have to own up and apologize when she made mistakes.
“It was the most basic and best way I could show respect,” she said. “He is a person, and he was a U.S. service member. He deserves at least that. Just because they’re in a situation doesn’t mean that they don’t matter. They matter the most.”
Just three weeks after we first made contact with Justin, he was housed with a job. However, Duarte refuses to take credit for his new situation.
“I’ve only provided options and choices,” she said. “He’s taken control of his life. All the choices that he’s wanted to make, I’ve just encouraged and provided support. He’s done all the hard work.”
Justin is just one of many incredible Veterans whose stories we’ve had the chance to tell. To read more, or to donate to help people like Justin find a new beginning, visit our website! We provide options to donate monetarily, or provide household items via our Amazon Wish List.
We are thankful for each of our case managers, donors, and Veterans!
About Endeavors Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.