The Hand of God in the Heart of the City

Photo of the outside of the Gateway building
by June Li
Categories: Divisional News

By: June Li

For over two decades, Jason called the streets his home. Things went from bad to worse when he began experimenting with drugs. Unfortunately, after living on the streets for five years, he became addicted to narcotics and soon his life went on a downward spiral.

Road to Recovery 

Looking for some peace and solace, Jason visited The Salvation Army, “Whenever I wanted a break from my insane world, I would visit the Vancouver Harbour Light,” says Jason. What began as a temporary visit soon turned into something much bigger. Jason enrolled in Harbour Light’s Treatment program which treats addiction through education, group therapy and one-on-one counselling.  After three months, Jason completed the program, “It disconnected me from the outside world, which is what I needed and in August of 2014 I walked out of Harbour Light for the last time as I successfully completed the program!”

Though Jason was now sober, he had nowhere to go. For those who have experienced chronic homelessness, finding safe and stable housing can be difficult. Looking for some assistance, Jason
reached out to his outreach worker where he was given a ticket back to Toronto, Ontario. With $30 in his pocket and a backpack full of food, Jason embarked on his new journey. “When I arrived in Toronto, I went back to where my roots were, and that place was The Salvation Army Gateway.”

Jason soon registered in the Gateway’s intensive case management program which focuses on housing and building supports around the individual and their needs. “The model we use is called CTI (also known as Critical Time Intervention),” says Josh McClement, Case Manager at The Salvation Army Gateway “This model uses the journey of change which moves someone from being stuck in an area of life to being independent.” Through stable housing and extended support, this program strives to help individuals stay housed and break the cycle of homelessness.

Life Today 

Today, Jason is enrolled at Ryerson University, has sustainable income and has been housed for over a year. “We have seen some amazing changes in Jason.  He has worked very hard and deserves all the credit for his success in this program,” says McClement.

“I often wonder how I got here,” says Jason, “The Gateway, gave me the tools I needed to escape from homelessness, poverty and addiction.”