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Faith, hard work and connections give hope

It was the little things in life when Carlos Stephens was homeless that enabled him to maintain his self-pride and prevented him from descending into further darkness and depression.  And there were plenty of those days as Carlos spent almost four years living in his car or catching a rare night’s sleep at a friend’s house. The ability to take a shower at a park or public swimming pool facility, and the occasional complimentary warm meal at a Seattle-area diner helped Carlos keep his faith and see the good in people, he said.

And some of these people he credits with helping him turn his life around include Allison, Grace and Fartun of Neighborhood House, who “were like angels in human bodies,” he said.

“From bus passes to soap to helping me get worker retraining and housing assistance, Neighborhood House became more like friends and people with whom I have trust,” he added.

The simple things so many take for granted, like being able to take a shower—still make him thankful every day, he said.

Within several months of getting job search and housing assistance from Neighborhood House, Carlos landed a job as a barista at a Capitol Hill coffee shop, but his desire to return to school and finish his bachelor’s degree kept him yearning to further succeed.  After a series of serendipitous encounters the 48-year-old was able to move into his own apartment.  Neighborhood House helped him with the move by making sure he had furniture and providing him with several months’ rent to help him secure his footing.

This, a far cry, he said, from the lifestyle he once had that included a home and family.

“I still need to get back to where I was but people need to know that we all need support.  Nobody can make it on their own.  I wouldn’t be here without Neighborhood House to help keep me going forward and telling me to not give up.”

Carlos is in an apartment of his own and is currently working part-time as a barista at Tully’s Coffee while he completes his degree in Social Human Services at Seattle Central College.