When Rad moved to Brookfield, he says he had a steady job as a janitor, and his life was good.
When he was laid off he became homeless and began living in a Beds Plus Care shelter. The shelters are operated nightly between Oct. 1 and May 15, in a series of churches in LaGrange, Countryside, Brookfield and Western Springs.
Off season, he lived on the streets of LaGrange.
“I was struggling to pay bills,” he said in an interview provided by Beds Plus Care. “It was hard, you know, especially with me having Type 2 Diabetes, and not getting the proper care, you know. It is scary being outside. It really is, especially during the winter when you just want to keep warm, and it is not safe being outside,” he said. “It is a terrible feeling.”
At the shelter he fell into a safety net of emergency services, and his short and long-term outlook started to stabilize.
“Rad is a man who had been sleeping in the shelter for several years, who has now been transitioned into a long-term housing program (Housing First) geared to individuals who have low, or no income, and other serious health issues,” said Tina Rounds, executive director of Beds Plus Care, in a recent phone interview. “Our hope is that a person such as him would become independent some day, but unlike transitional housing, permanent supportive housing is on a client’s timeline, as opposed to a program’s timeline. So, it can be permanent, and last a lifetime, or it can be short-term, and the person can then graduate from the program and become independent.”
The first open door arrived when he met lead caseworker Bruce Malak.
“He put me on a list, and asked me questions, and the next thing I know I got a phone call, and I got to meet with a case worker and he got me an apartment in Calumet City,” Rad said. “They are a great staff.”
Beds Plus Care, Rounds said, also provides a lot of prevention programs, and increasingly more supportive housing programs, as homelessness is a spectrum, and to address the issue it requires a collaborating community of caring that encompasses schools, police departments, hospitals, nonprofits and other entities, she said.
“People’s mindset is that a homeless person is the man or woman on the corner holding a sign. But, it is a broader and more complex social problem that involves economic circumstances, health circumstances, mental health issues, family conflict and financial crisis. It is more than just somebody you might immediately think of when you say the word homeless. It’s a lot of people, and it is in every family,” Rounds says. “Rad is someone who struggles with homelessness, is disconnected to his family, has multiple health problems and needs some support with his day-to-day life skills. We are happy that we were able to get him help.”
Meanwhile, since August 25, Rad’s life is improving.
“I sleep good. I feel better. My diabetes is getting better because I am managing it better and taking the medications,” he said. “Being able to sleep in a nice, warm place that is safe and secure…if it wasn’t for [the staff at Beds Plus], I would probably still be on the streets.”