Sometimes, after seeing one or two people on the streets that seem to be impaired by alcohol or drugs, it’s easy to assume that most homeless people are there because they are addicted to substances and can’t get sober. However, this isn’t statistically true – only around one-third of sheltered homeless adults have chronic substance use issues, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The other two-thirds of the homeless population have stories similar to that of former Steadfast House resident Mahogany. Before coming to Steadfast House, Mahogany and her son Daniel were without a stable place to live and were forced to bounce between shelters, hotels and the homes of friends and family for a while. Mahogany has an associate’s degree in early childhood education and was earning another degree to be an EMT, but due to some bad decisions in her past, it was unlikely that she would be able to find a job in that field.
However, Mahogany knew that it was crucial for her and her son to find a stable place to live so that she could find a fresh start and get into a new career. After being on the Steadfast House waiting list for four months, Mahogany and Daniel jumped at the chance to move in when space opened up. They settled in and a case manager began to help Mahogany get back on her feet.
Mahogany loves to cook and often cooked for her housemates at Steadfast House. When her case manager mentioned ABCCM’s culinary program with A-B Tech, she signed up and began training to be a chef. She passed the standard and advanced culinary classes with flying colors, and now has a career-level job with Cúrate in downtown Asheville. Mahogany is able to provide for her son, and she says that she is proud of herself and happy again. Her story is an example of the fact that, despite not having issues with substance abuse, homelessness is a reality for many people, but that a desire to change and a caring, supportive environment can make all the difference for mothers and children as they find stability again.