He and his wife separated, negotiating visitation rights for Mike to see his daughter. Soon thereafter, the company Mike was working at was sold. He found a new job, hired on as the mechanic at an old mill the owners wanted to bring back to life.
Mike became traumatized. Three months later, the factory abruptly closed. Mike turned to alcohol to deal with his PTSD, anxiety and depression. He began picking blueberries and selling them on the side of the road, scraping together money to buy alcohol.
“I stayed up there for a few years. Things were getting bad for me there between depression and my mental problems." Mike had a record with the local hospital for previous suicide attempts. "I checked myself into the hospital because I was feeling suicidal.”
Bouncing around shelters and jobs, he spent a lot of time in Copley Square near the Boston Public Library.
Mike suffered from four slipped discs in his back, which caused the side of his body to go numb and create frequent foot injuries. He navigated the shelter system with a boot and a cane. Finally, he was able to get back surgery. Due to his medical situation, Mike became connected to specific housing resources.
“One day, I found a piece of paper on my bed,” he recalls. “It said ‘you’ve been placed on the chronic list – please be here at a specific time’. So, I show up, they introduce me to Retha [a housing placement specialist], and that’s where things started to change.”
After two years in shelter, Mike found a place at Pine Street’s house on Green Street in Jamaica Plain. Before moving in, Mike made a vow to himself to maintain sobriety. “I made a promise to my counselors at Pine Street and my family, that once I got my own place, I’d get the help I need.” He went to detox and is now regularly seeing a therapist and psychologist.
“My hope for Mike is for him to someday move on to his own apartment when he’s ready. I want him to be happy, get a job and live his best life,” said Anjanette, his case manager at Green Street. “He’s a joy – he’s so positive, always smiling.”
Mike has been settling in, participating in community service and renewing his relationship with his daughter.
Mike smiles. “Since I’ve got my own place, I’m content. I was down on my luck, but then found people like Pine Street’s housing specialists that helped me back up.”