Mark’s Story: I Fight for Unhoused People Because I Know What It’s Like
Last Updated: 19 Oct 2022
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There’s a reason why Mark Pitre is an incredible champion for unhoused people in San Antonio—15 years ago, he was in the exact same situation.
As a Housing Specialist at Endeavors, Mark Pitre works day in and day out to help unhoused people in San Antonio find a place to live.
He is known in the community as a relentless advocate for his clients, always going above and beyond to help with the real needs at hand. His approach is relational and intuitive—he knows when to cheer for their successes, but he also knows when it’s necessary to dole out some tough love.
In short, he’s an incredible champion for unhoused people in San Antonio. And there’s a reason why: 15 years ago, he was in the exact same situation.
“I was one of the first residents at Haven for Hope,” explained Mark. He showed up with a lengthy criminal history, a 22-year heroin addiction, and undiagnosed depression and PTSD.
Mark’s situation is not altogether uncommon at San Antonio shelters. Due to his criminal background, he was often denied housing and jobs. He struggled to know where to turn or what to do. However, when he found himself getting clean at Haven for Hope and looking for housing, he had a case manager who went the extra mile to advocate for him.
“I got denied at five different places because of my criminal history,” said Mark. “Everything would seem like it was good to go, and then the background check would fail.” Still, his case manager persisted. She wrote letters, called landlords, and fought for Mark to get a chance.
“I was riding in the car when I got the call,” said Mark. “I was ready for another denial, but they said, ‘You’ve been accepted!’ I couldn’t believe it. I went straight to the apartment and signed for it. That’s how I got my place.”
Mark lived in that apartment for 7 years.
A Tenacious Advocate
Though Mark was thriving in his position as a warehouse employee, he began to dream of helping others the way his case manager helped him. He began working as a housing specialist for Haven.
Immediately it became apparent: Mark was a natural.
“Part of the reason why I was so good at it was because I knew what it felt like to be told, ‘No,’” said Mark. “I know what it feels like to be frustrated and ready to give up. So I never give up on my clients.”
When Mark began working at Endeavors, his client list expanded even further. He was helping Veterans of all kinds—single men and women, families, people with disabilities, and senior citizens, among others. He networked with landlords and management companies.
“Endeavors offers an amazing array of services,” he said. “Our housing-first model and wraparound services are keys to helping people find success.”
Mark is strategic and tenacious when it comes to advocating for his clients.
A few months ago, he was working with a landlord who was really nervous to allow a Veteran into their apartment complex. Mark personally vouched for them by sharing his story. “I told him: This guy looks like a boy scout compared to me,” he laughed. “I gave him my ID and told him to run my background to prove it. I told him that the only reason why I’m able to do what I’m doing now is because a previous landlord gave me an opportunity to turn my situation around. And that’s what he was going to do with this person.”
The landlord agreed to give the Veteran a chance.
From the Streets to the Boardroom
Mark does what he does because help was given to him. “That help was given to me when I needed it so much, and that’s the reason why I work so hard to help my own clients succeed.”
“My job is to give my Veterans an opportunity,” he said. “What they do with that opportunity is up to them. It’s my job to give them the tools they need to succeed.”
Mark also currently sits on the board of Endeavors as a client liaison.
“You know, if you would have asked me 15 years ago if I would ever be in the boardroom of a major nonprofit in San Antonio, or anywhere else for that matter, I’d assume you were crazy,” he said. “I’m the poster child for resilience.”
We believe that communities are only as strong as the way they care for their most vulnerable populations. Our Supportive Housing programs empower people to build better lives for themselves through supportive housing, case management, professional counseling, life skills training, and employment opportunities for chronically homeless adults with disabilities and their children throughout Texas.
To learn more and to help through volunteering, donating, or spreading the word, visit www.endeavors.org.
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.