|“I’m so grateful to have a warm, dry, safe place to rest my head — a place to call home.”|
MICHAEL, AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Michael Falcon had a good job, money in the bank and a prosperous life, first in San Francisco and then in New York City.
But that was before things fell apart, before her life savings were swallowed up in a bad investment and her mental health began to unravel. Where once there had been a happy, healthy person, now Michael was homeless and grappling with mental illness. It look a lot of hard work — and some support from Compass Housing Alliance — to get herself back on the right path.
In sharing her story, Michael says she wants to break through the misconception that homelessness only happens to certain people.
“I want people to know that it can happen to anyone,” Michael says.
It was after receiving word that she’d lost her life savings — more than $80,000 — that Michael checked herself in to the hospital, where she was treated for mental illness. She lost her job, and with it, the means to pay for her housing. Fortunately, she had her family by her side throughout the ordeal. When she left the hospital, she went to live with her father and stepmother.
“They helped pick up the pieces,” Michael says of her family. “I had a catcher’s mitt.”
She knows that many people who experience homelessness are not so lucky. Still, the living arrangement was not without its challenges, and Michael knew she needed to find stable housing.
“An adult child living with adult parents at home is not an ideal situation — you need to have your own space,” she says.
She found it in Compass Housing Alliance, first at the Cascade Women’s transitional housing program, and then at the Karlstrom Apartments, a permanent housing location in Pioneer Square.
Being in a stable, supportive environment with her own space proved invaluable. The time allowed her to work through the mental health issues that were at the root of her homelessness. The change didn’t happen overnight, but by attending to her health needs, Michael made gradual improvement.
“These programs work, and they help people get back on their feet,” she says.
Now, she’s going back to school to get her degree. She’s already graduated from South Seattle Community College with her Associate’s Degree, earning a 3.8 GPA and being named to the Dean’s List five times.
In the fall of 2013, she transferred to the University of Washington, where she’s working on her degree in communications. It will be an important next step for Michael, as she aims to re-enter the workforce and rebuild her life. Looking back on how far she’s come, she said she’s thankful for the supportive housing she found with Compass Housing Alliance.
“I’m so grateful to have a warm, dry, safe place to rest my head — a place to call home,” Michael says. “I thank God for that.”