For many, the holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends. With the opening of Crawford Apartments in Bloomington earlier this year, many chronically homeless individuals now have a place to do just that.
Dwight Hayes of Bloomington, Indiana moved into the Crawford Apartments earlier this year after more than six years of being homeless.
He couldn’t be more proud of his home and says he plans to spend his Christmas in it.
“I ain’t never lived in a place as nice as this and I am glad I’m here,” Hayes says. “Thank God I’m here. I’ve been out on the roads a long time and walked the streets and everything you know.”
Hayes says living in a home is a lot different. Prior to his residence at Crawford Apartments, Hayes took up refuge from time to time in local shelters, but for the most part he lived in the woods.
He now enjoys little luxuries like locking the door to his own place and relaxing on the couch while the television runs.
The Shalom Community Center was instrumental in Hayes’s transition back into permanent housing.
Shalom Center Executive Director Forrest Gilmore says it’s amazing to see how well the permanent supportive housing model is working with the 25 residents at the Crawford Apartments, especially around the holiday season.
“For many people I think who have been homeless for years if not decades, I can imagine that Christmas is not so much a time of hope, it’s a time of sadness a time of loss, a time of fear,” Gilmore says. ”In this amazing season when so many people that have been homeless for so long are now off the streets – I think it’s miraculous in some way for them.”
Gilmore says the Crawford Apartments are a part of a national movement to decrease chronic homelessness which uses a housing-first approach.