Field Work

No Longer Homeless at Christmas

L Higgenbottom

Lenny Higginbottom


 
A social worker hands Lenny Higginbottom, 52, the keys to a 378-square-foot apartment, the first home of his own after 24 years on the streets.

“Try to fight the tears,” he says, gripping the keys during a video accompanying a story by Boston public radio (WBUR) reporter Lynn Jolicoeur. “Something I thought I’d never be able to do,” Higginbottom says.

His past issues are not uncommon among the homeless: a father who died when he was six, depression, substance abuse, and a failed marriage. He had a Section 8 housing voucher but couldn’t find a landlord willing to rent to him due to minor criminal activity in his past.

But, as the article explains, there are good things, including a childhood in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston that was fun to grow up in.  He cut a record as a rap musician once, and a judge told him that his smarts could keep him out of prison.  Higginbottom, according to a staff person at a Boston homeless shelter quoted in the story, has done some serious personal work to qualify for the apartment. Housing for the homeless is in short supply and goes to the most deserving.

Like him, a friend of my family who has fallen in and out homelessness for at least a decade was recently given an apartment. But her self-destructive ways have sucked her back in, and she is losing the apartment – and her precious second chance.

It’s a good time of the year to appreciate what people like Higginbottom have accomplished and find ways to support them.

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4 Responses to No Longer Homeless at Christmas

  1. Gail says:

    Thank you for the Lenny Higginbottom story. Substance abuse runs in my family, so I have an appreciation for his struggles and the daily hard work it takes to fight the demons that want to suck you back into the darkness. I hope he makes it. And, really, “hope” is what Christmas is all about.

  2. Marcie says:

    Hearts go out to all of these individuals who are having such a difficult time. We have no idea what the struggles of others are like — and the courage it takes to live each day — until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

  3. Gayle Dedelow says:

    Home for Christmas! Good story!

  4. Stacy says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. I have been with a person who battled substance abuse. It was a hard time for both him and me. There were times when all he wanted was to die. But with the coming of Christmas, there is positivity all around and that has led him to believe that he can overcome his addiction.

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