Streets to Home: A Stepping Stone for Randall

July 10, 2015
Julie Strand

“I had pretty much given up hope,” says Randall Shedd. “If it weren’t for Franciscan Outreach I would still be in the shelter.”

Randall is a recent graduate of Franciscan Outreach’s Streets-to-Home Initiative, and he’s willing to tell anyone who will listen how the organization changed his life.

Randall- edited“I was homeless because of my drug addiction, gambling, and lack of God,” says Randall. An honorably discharged Vietnam War veteran, Randall had been homeless for more than ten years when he decided to turn his life around. After a decade of sleeping in shelters and panhandling he decided to focus on someone beside himself.

“I started getting to know the other guests at the shelter. One of them was a blind man. I helped him get his meals, his laundry, his showers. God can work with you when you’re not keyed in on yourself,” Randall says. Randall became friends with the man and decided he would help him get housing.

He brought his friend to Franciscan Outreach’s case management offices at St. Peter’s Church in the Loop. He told case manager Teresa Brooks that he was there to help his friend obtain housing. He was stunned when Teresa insisted that she could help him get housed too.

Teresa helped Randall apply for the Streets-to-Home Initiative, one of Franciscan Outreach’s accelerated housing programs. Randall was accepted and as a participant received a subsidized apartment, intensive case management help, and Life Skills classes.

“That program was a stepping stone for me,” he says. “It was a building block. I started having a routine. I started working on my health.” As Randall progressed through the program he began to work toward self-sufficiency and develop a network of support. He repaired his relationship with his family, began to socialize with the other residents in his building, and successfully obtained veterans benefits.

After eight months in the program Randall was ready to graduate and move into other permanent housing. While he was out eating lunch with his family one day he got a surprise phone call telling him he had been accepted into a one-bedroom apartment.

“The lady said ‘Come pick up your keys,’” he laughs. “Not even, ‘come fill out paperwork’ or ‘come sign a lease,’ but ‘come pick up your keys!’”

Today Randall is happy and housed in his new apartment. When he moved in, case managers drew on Client Assistance Funds to help him purchase the household items that he needed. With three windows, his own kitchen and bathroom, and air conditioning, it seems like a mansion. His new apartment is bigger than his old one, but Randall knows how to manage his money and care for his home. “The Streets-to-Home Initiative prepared me for this next step,” he says. “Franciscan Outreach was there when I needed them. And God has had his hand on my life from day one.”