When David Tulley talks, you can tell poetry is in his blood. He spins tales of world travel and speaks with passion about loving kindness. Until a year ago, he was working as a chef, performing slam poetry, and writing a book.
Last spring, David ran into hard times. He lost his job, then his home, and ended up spending a few months in jail. By the time he came to our office, he was staying in emergency shelter, determined to find a way to rebuild his life.
To look for employment in Arizona, you need an ID. Unfortunately, David's California Driver License was lost, and he found himself stuck in a catch-22 when he tried to apply for an Arizona ID. Arizona requires a birth certificate to get an ID, while California requires an ID to get a birth certificate.
With the help of the Homeless ID Project and some creative thinking, David now has his temporary ID in hand and is ready to start looking for work. This means David will be able to regain his financial stability and pursue his writing dreams. Watch for "Brair" Tulley's new book, coming soon!
Bendi is what Hector calls his puppy. It's short for Bendiciones, or blessings in Spanish. The name would be as fitting for the man as for the dog. Hector's bright smile and big, belly laughs are a gift to our community.
Hector first became homeless two years ago when he was hit by a car, an accident that left him with a debilitating disability. To make matters worse, as a migrant from Mexico, Hector doesn't qualify for disability benefits or subsidized housing. That's why he came to our office: to apply to become a U.S. citizen.
Every night, Hector sleeps on the pavement and has nothing to eat but what is offered in soup kitchens. You'd think, for someone in Hector's position, an application fee waiver would be a no-brainer. This is unfortunately not the case. The application process and required documentation can be completely overwhelming.
Through the Homeless ID Project, Hector was able to submit an application for citizenship and prove his financial need. He passed a background check and English and Civics tests; his Certificate of Citizenship will be arriving shortly. We're excited to know that Hector will finally qualify for housing. Hector and Bendi deserve a place to call home.
Over 60% of people who go to prison end up re-arrested within three years. This is true, in part, because of how difficult it can be to regain stability after incarceration. Many people struggle with emotional trauma and social isolation after they are released, and felony charges often close doors to employment and housing. It takes enormous willpower and community support to rebuild healthy lives on the outside.
When Serena, 26, was released after 6 years in a women's prison, she was inspired to move forward. She moved into a halfway house. That's where she met Julia, a woman with similar circumstances and convictions. Julia and Serena have been going everywhere together, inspiring each other to pursue their goals. However, when they began searching for jobs, Serena got stuck without any way to prove her identity.
Serena's birth certificate was never completely registered; hospital recorders wrote read "Baby Girl" where her name should be. As a result, Serena was ineligible for a state ID, which she needed to apply for work. Homeless ID Project staff helped Serena legally change her name, then amend her birth certificate, and, finally, get her Arizona ID.
Serena's case is unfortunately common. We see many people each week with complicated identification issues that require multiple documents or legal action to resolve. However, with Serena's uncommon perseverance, and a little help from the Homeless ID Project, Serena and Julia are both working full-time. Serena has plans to move into an apartment, and remains committed to maintaining her freedom.