By Monique Sandhu
Jose, a soft spoken and thoughtful man, has been a Texan his whole life; he was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He came to Austin quite a bit in the 70’s to visit friends, and decided to move here in 1985. He was a chef for many years, working at restaurants all over Austin, ranging from Burnet Road to 6th Street. He then went into a BBQ trailer business in 1995 with his roommate. The business stayed alive for seven years, and Jose enjoyed cooking brisket and potato salad, serving his customers and doing what he liked. His potato salad was even so famous that local women would buy it and pass it off as their own!
In 2005, Jose and a roommate purchased a mobile home in Oak Hill. In 2007, Jose had a heart attack and soon had difficulty paying his portion of the rent. In August of 2007 his roommate passed away, making it harder to afford his rent and recover from his heart attack. Jose lost his home soon after and stayed with friends for six months until his friends’ son moved in. This was his first wake-up call that he didn’t have his own home anymore, and he soon became homeless.
Jose began camping in a field near Oak Hill, sometime staying in cheap motels, until a few months ago when he had another setback. This past March, while living in the field, he developed an ulcer on the bottom of his foot. It rapidly became painful and infected, and Jose was hospitalized because of it. One day as he was using his walker to get across the bathroom, his walker got caught in the carpet and he fell back into the bathtub and hit his foot. This caused the ulcer to be irritated and he was sent to the hospital. They had to amputate his foot and part of his leg.
While homeless, Jose also had several issues with his vision. He had a tear in his retina and after receiving a MAP card last year, was able to have cataracts surgery. His diabetes has made things hard for Jose and has caused many complications to his health.
Because of these various issues, Jose was referred to Front Steps’ permanent supportive housing program, which he was recently accepted into. On Thursday, June 30th, he moved into his own apartment, where he anxiously awaits the arrival of his pet rabbit, Keezy. Because he is in Front Steps’ Permanent Supportive Housing program, is working with a case manager, and addressing his physical needs, he now has a stable living environment to fully heal from his very painful physical and emotional traumas.
Jose said that during his homelessness people were very generous and willing to share with him, which he appreciated. His friends live close by and are soon going to be able to visit Jose’s new apartment. These small simple joys are a new comfort for Jose, and are able to happen through Front Steps’ housing program.
Although Jose lived a hard life, he was able to move into housing and is now living in a safe and secure environment. Because of his recent disabilities, we are looking for a shower seat and other ADA compliant equipment. If you have an item to donate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would to help more people like Jose find a pathway home and inspire hope, please consider making a donation here,
Thank you for all you do to help those who are experiencing homelessness!