Solomon Banks shares his joy of hearing a sound he hasn’t heard for more than three years: The jangle of keys in his pocket.
“It has been so long since I have had a place to call my own,” he said.
After a recent hospital stay, Banks was discharged to National Health Foundation Recuperative Care. Once there, he began to heal physically, but it was his willingness to open up about a difficult relationship and the challenges he faced living on the streets that created the opportunity for healing on an emotional level as well.
“I had been in an abusive relationship and recognized that it was better for me to cut ties than to continue to be in the situation I was in,” he said. “Sleeping on the streets and shuffling from shelter to shelter is unstable and dangerous when you are healthy and downright scary when you are sick.”
Homelessness is a critical issue for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, like Banks, who face unique obstacles because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, including a higher risk of bullying, harassment and discrimination, which can undermine physical, social, emotional, and mental health.
At NHF Recuperative Care, Banks worked closely with staff to schedule and attend follow-up doctor appointments. They connected him with APLA Health, which specializes in providing health care for the LGBT community and those living with HIV/AIDS, and Skid Row Housing Trust, which provides permanent supportive housing for people recovering from long-term homelessness and working toward a better life.
“Members of the LGBT community are especially vulnerable to violence and abuse on the streets, so for Solomon, it was important for us to work together to ensure he became connected to permanent supportive housing that would be safe and inclusive,” said Shakoya Green, NHF Recuperative Care program director. “I am so proud of how he and our staff were able to work together to find the best solution.”
Having a place to call home has meant the difference between a certain return to the hospital and healing on every level.
“I know that had I returned to the streets, my health would have declined once again. It was a vicious cycle of illness on the streets. But now I am feeling better than I have in years, physically and emotionally, too. Feeling safe and being housed is the best feeling!” he said.