Beverly was homeless for nearly 20 years before moving into Prelude, an Alex Permanent Supportive Housing building operated alongside HomeSpace.
In 1975, when she was just a girl, Beverly was taken from her birth parents after witnessing violent domestic abuse in the home. She was placed with foster parents and her older siblings all went to different homes. As a result of the trauma she’d experienced, being separated from her loved ones, and being placed in a new home, she experienced anxiety, nervousness and bad dreams that persisted for years. But Beverly was resilient, even as a child. Over time she grew to enjoy living with her foster parents and graduated high school in 1985 at age 19.
What is Prelude?
Prelude is one of the two place-based permanent supportive housing (PBPSH) programs at The Alex. The apartment buildings are home to individuals with
chronic illnesses, disabilities, mental health issues, and/or substance use disorders who have experienced long-term or repeated homelessness. Staff support is provided 24 hours a day and includes case management.
Beverly chose to move out after graduating, feeling she did not want to burden her foster parents. She lived periodically with friends in the Bowness community and worked two part time cleaning jobs. She didn’t have a vehicle but managed to get to work between the bus and a friend who would give her rides.
A few months later, things took a turn for the worse. Beverly had been struggling with alcohol addiction for years, and in the spring of 1998, she lost her jobs as a result. With no income and no family to lean on, she ended up homeless.
During a year of struggle, there was one bright light. 1998 was also the year Beverly met the love of her life, who was also experiencing homelessness.
“Being homeless was awful,” she says. “All we had were sleeping bags and a tarp. It was freezing. The worst part was when you had to go to the washroom and it was freezing out. Sometimes we stayed at the DI or Alpha House or the Mustard Seed and didn’t have to sleep outside.”
In May 2017, construction was completed on Prelude in Radisson Heights. Beverly didn’t know it yet, but she was about to receive a home, after 19 years of experiencing homelessness.
“I was staying at the DI and I remember the day the staff told me, ‘We have a home for you.’ That was in April 2017 and then I moved in July 2017. Now, I’ve been here three years.”
Luckily Beverly’s partner was able to be housed at Prelude too. The two lived as next door neighbours until he passed away in March of 2019, after 21 years of being together.
“I knew he was going to die, but he didn’t want to go to a hospital. He was happy here and he wanted to die here. He’s in Heaven now.”
Beverly was devastated after his passing. Feeling hopeless and unworthy in her grief, she told The Alex staff she wanted to go back to the streets, but they talked her into staying in her home.
“My man would be happy for me for staying,” she says. “I’m really happy I stayed. It’s comfortable and quiet here and the staff are good. I’m a good neighbour; I don’t make it loud in my place.”
Beverly enjoys doing puzzles, watching TV and movies, visiting with her friends in the building and cooking – especially scrambled eggs and bacon! She also enjoys cleaning and helping where she can, such as raking the leaves outside. She plans to stay at Prelude for the rest of her life.
of formerly chronically homeless people (41 residents) with trimorbidities who were unable to live independently remained consecutively housed in Alex Permanent Supportive Housing apartment buildings.
“I don’t get bad dreams anymore,” says Beverly, gazing upon the many dream catchers hanging on the walls of her home.
“My hope is for everyone homeless to get housed. I want them to know there’s help out there for them, if they choose to take the opportunity. There are buildings like Prelude, and I want the people who build them to know they are helping.”