The smoke of drugs, the buzz of alcohol, sex and rock’n’roll. Vincent doesn’t think, Vincent feels free, Vincent has fun. The days pass and unfold like domino tiles, impossible to stop. The fun quickly gives way to suffering, pain, and an emptiness that continues to grow, and is impossible to ignore. 

Left without a job and a home, the only thing that matters is to survive until the dawn of a new day. In August 2018, Depaul USA opened the first 13 House Project in Little Rock. Vincent is welcomed with open arms to rebuild a life that seemed lost.

I am that light shining with its own strength

I was young, thinking that living wild with sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll was cool. 

I believed I had everything under control, but reality hit me hard, and I found out I wasn’t in control at all. By the time I realized it, things had gone downhill. I soon ended up homeless, sleeping in the woods, near a church, or crashing on someone’s couch. 

When I first became homeless, my only thoughts were about getting high and where I’d find my next drink. During that time, there was no hope. I wasn’t well both mentally and physically. Every day was about figuring out how to get my next fix and survive. Every night it was just a battle to survive, asking for help at a shelter, finding a temporary place to sleep hoping no raccoon or wild dogs would come and catch me whilst on the streets. It was just about persevering, it was not about living anymore. 

Depaul, especially Jericho Way, came into my life when I was already in a recovery program. They gave me hope. Mandy Davis talked about the 13 Houses Campaign, and it seemed like a way out. Depaul gave me tools and said, “We’re here for you.” It gave me peace of mind; knowing someone cared about this guy from the streets. They showed me I could change, even though I was a ‘stranger’, sometimes smelly, with nothing but myself. Depaul simply said, “Hey, we got you.”

The best part was when they helped me get a home. I didn’t have to struggle or save up. The 13 House Project came at the right time. When they handed me the keys, it felt real. It was like sunshine, and I realized this was no dream. I didn’t have to fight or scratch to get it. People were saying, “We got you.”

Having a home changed everything. Making my bed, and taking a shower – simple things made me feel human again. Going to work and coming back to my own place, turning on the heat or air – it’s hard to explain, but it’s pure joy and love.

Looking ahead, my future is great. I want to keep walking this positive path and be a light like the scriptures say. Depaul gave me hope, and people see that. They ask, “Are you still in the house?” I say, “Yes”, and they’re proud. My goal is to keep growing, living peacefully, and showing that change is possible.

For those going through what I went through, I want to say: don’t give up. Ask for help. It’s tough to be vulnerable, but there’s a way out. Look at me – I have a home. There are people like Depaul waiting to help. Don’t give up.

Talking about homelessness, we need to focus on the mental side more. It’s not just about drugs and alcohol. Many people need help with their mental health. We need to tackle that. And never stop giving money. If you have given a million dollars, give 2 million next time. The help is making a difference, but we still need more. Let’s address mental health in homelessness and keep helping. That’s the key.