At first being homeless didn’t really bother me, I had friends and a lot of places to go.But when I became addicted to drugs, was on the street in a new town . . . I was so scared and alone. . . on the street, you can’t trust anyone.
Christina, a graduate of Shepherd’s Door
A person who is living on the street is profoundly alone.
A leading cause of homelessness is relationship breakdown. Homelessness is linked to the breakdown of personal and social relationships and being put at a distance from social networks and connections. Living on the street is particularly traumatic for women. Christina found herself pregnant, alone, and terrified. When her child was immediately removed from her care, she was at her lowest point. She learned about Shepherd’s Door from a caseworker and after five months of hard work in the program was able to regain custody of her daughter.
Being homeless means more than just being without a home
In addition to an increased risk of social isolation and loneliness, homeless individuals when compared to the general population have a much shorter life expectancy. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council states that regardless of age, members of the homeless community are considered medically geriatric resulting in an average age expectancy of about 50 years old. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death.
Social isolation is also associated with a 50% increased risk of mental health problems, a 29% increase risk of heart disease, and a 32% risk of stroke, according to the CDC.
The isolation of street life is toxic to a person’s body, mind, and soul.
At Shepherd’s Door, Christina worked to understand her emotional wounds and the drivers behind her addiction. In a safe community, she was able to take necessary, brave, and often painful steps to heal emotionally in order to start a new life for herself and her daughter. It would have been impossible for her to do this work alone.
Christina told us, “I needed people to stand not just with me, but around me as I tried to pick up the crumbling pieces of myself.”
To see Christina tell her own story of life transformation, and hear other redemptive stories like this one, tune in to KATU on Thursday, August 12, at 9:00 a.m.
To support the healing journey of many women like Christina, give online today.