Peter grew up in southeastern Massachusetts with a brother, two sisters and an abusive, alcoholic father, who encouraged him to start fights with others. Seeking his father’s approval, Peter would get into fights and hurt other people, but his violent and unstable home environment caused him to turn to alcohol and drugs by the age of 13. At 16, Peter got up the courage to confront his father, and as a result, he was kicked out of his home.
Believing in the importance of hard work and manual labor, Peter spent more than 20 years as a seasonal employee in restaurants and contract construction jobs, but one day at a new construction job, Peter fell onto a concrete retaining wall, suffering a broken neck, permanent nerve damage and a back injury. Unable to work and pay rent, he was forced into homelessness. Despite working hard to find the stability and peace he desired, Peter spent seven years sleeping in emergency shelters and on the street before being referred to the Cardinal Medeiros Center, operated by MHSA member agency Bay Cove Human Services, where he was connected to a case manager who approached him about housing. After just a few months, he found a home through MHSA’s Pay for Success (PFS) program. Having stable housing and being out of the shelter system has helped reinforce Peter’s sobriety, and while he still has nerve damage in a few fingers and recently had additional back surgery, he now has a comfortable place where he can continue to recover and stay sober.
“The best part of having a home is the comfort and security that it’s yours,” Peter said. “Having a home means everything — it makes you feel like a human being.”
PFS helps people take care of their often complex health issues. Instead of being on the street or in shelter and having to rely on costly emergency resources, they have access to permanent supportive housing to help manage their health. In its first five years, PFS housed over 1,000 tenants, surpassing its goal.