“I hate that old picture of me with the beard, but that is who I was or what I was at that moment. But the moment I held the key [to my apartment] was a great feeling… I don’t know how to explain it. One of the best feelings I have had in a very long time.”
For over 25 years, the New Hope C.O.R.P.S. has served people experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade County. Under the Pathways Program, they engage unhoused individuals and link them to available housing and services. With a history of providing transitional housing and substance abuse treatment, New Hope expanded its reach in the community by forming a specialized street outreach team funded through the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.
Kimberlee Sheffield, a longtime homeless advocate, and Care Coordinator at New Hope, recently helped permanently house George Galindo, an only child who spent 11 years on the streets after his mother fell ill. Kimberlee spoke to us about the journey out of homelessness for George and others like him.
Kimberlee, in your experience, what do people who find themselves in a predicament like George need to succeed?
“Individuals like George are most often successful in achieving recovery and reintegrating into society when they’ve been given the opportunity to express their needs, identify their preferences and establish community-based supports with guidance from people trained in assisting those in transition.”
Kimberlee, you have shared that George was part of an initiative spearheaded by the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust to engage people experiencing homelessness, including those in encampments. How did you get George to rethink the streets?
“It took some convincing, but George finally agreed to go to a shelter. Chapman Partnership provided the shelter bed and we hit the ground running and did not slow down until George was housed with Carrfour Supportive Housing. George also receives wrap-around support services that meet his unique needs. He is currently seeking employment, loving his new life and looking forward to a bright future.”
What would you share with landlords about working with the Homeless Trust?
“Landlords are also often willing to work with New Hope and the Homeless Trust because there is, in effect, a guarantor of the rental payments, if only for a limited time. Additionally, we may offer an additional security deposit to make landlords more comfortable working with our target population. Oftentimes, these benefits help to mitigate any additional risk landlords may perceive in housing individuals experiencing homelessness.”
Thanks to organizations like New Hope C.O.R.P.S., unhoused individuals like George are given a second chance. He was more than happy to share the turning point in his own story with us.
“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of not doing anything, and I was actually thinking, where is my life going - this is not what God intended for me. There has to be a better way, and Thank God, they (New Hope C.O.R.P.S.) were there.”
What did you learn about yourself from living on the streets for 11 years?
“People get used to the situation… it can happen to anyone in a split second. You lose a family member; you lose your job; things get tough; you are out on the street. It’s the lowest you could get, but… you adapt, and you get used to the situation. So it’s a good thing and a bad thing.”
When we asked George about his new home that New Hope C.O.R.P.S. helped him secure, he laughed with pride and said, “It’s kind of weird, but you know I can’t ask for anything else… But it’s great, you know, it’s mine!”
What message would you share with folks who think getting off the streets might now be in their future?
“It’s possible. If you keep on and you try and hold on to hope, there is always hope out there. New Hope is the perfect name for them because they instill new hope in you. You have to believe in yourself and in others…
Slowly but surely, you start believing in others, and you start feeling a little bit responsible for them too. You don’t want to let them down, and more, you don’t want to let yourself down.
The opportunity for good living conditions -- normal people are used to these things -- but once you get to the streets, and then you recover, it’s a great feeling. If there were more places like this, it would be great.”
Kimberlee’s parting words of wisdom for George are inspired by trusting the process “You’re the author of your story. Your story has many chapters. You can’t rewrite the previous chapters; only you can move forward and change the narrative… You got this, George!”
If you are interested in learning more about the services provided by the Homeless Trust and Continuum of Care providers like New Hope C.O.R.P.S., please visit the Homeless Trust website provider portal
If you are a landlord and are interested in learning more about the incentive programs available, contact Paul Imbrone at 305-349-RENT and find out how you can get started today!