Have you met Hollis?

Hollis is one of our board members at the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County. He is well known and loved in his community. He has a place of his own where he enjoys watching football and spending time with family and friends. He is independent, confident, and “has a vision for the future.”

His story was not always like this. Hollis was a successful truck driver. When he became blind, he hit a string of bad luck. He transitioned from a full salary to disability, and his life changed. He found himself living homeless on the streets for two years. During his time on the streets, Hollis spent every second of his day focused on surviving to the next. With no place to call his own and no resources to get himself out of the situation, every thought was focused on where could he stay, where would he eat and sleep, and where would he clean his clothes?

One day, he learned from a friend that he could get a meal at Housing Forward, an Alliance partner agency. From there, he started going to the support center where he could use a computer. He got help to get an ID, and most importantly, he got a referral for his eyesight.

With the help of his case manager—after years of being homeless—Hollis moved into his own apartment on September 14, 2014. Even more than just a set of keys, having a place of his own has meant Hollis’ care for himself and others is abounding, evidenced by the fact that everyone in his neighborhood knows and loves him.

Currently, Hollis serves on the Alliance’s Board of Directors, the Alliance’s Coordinated Entry Committee, and the West Suburban Council on Homelessness. This keeps him busy but also allows him to see another side of homelessness. One of Hollis’ goals in working with the Alliance is to help make the process of getting housing easier. In his own words, “the solution to homelessness is having housing, and when we give a house first, everything follows after because homeless people are emotionally drained, using all their energy to survive.”

Hollis is now transitioning from permanent supportive housing to a FLOW voucher, a new permanent housing subsidy that will free up his current spot in the supportive housing program. This will allow someone who is currently homeless and vulnerable to get the housing and supportive services they need to be successful.

There’s a quotation pinned to the wall of Hollis’ home, and he looks at it every day:

“A Man without a Vision for His Future Always Returns to His Past.”

He feels that the Alliance has given him that vision for his future. He has gotten to network and do several speaking engagements. He feels that working with the Alliance has given him more life and confidence. We are proud to have Hollis on our team.

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