Broken, but Not Beyond Repair

Dan found out he was HIV positive about 17 years ago while he was giving plasma to earn money. Initially, he was apathetic. “I felt like it was just another thing to deal with. One more thing wrong in my life.” Dan had been homeless in Louisiana, looking for work, when he contracted HIV. He came back to his hometown of Kansas City to live with his sister and try to get back on his feet.

While staying with his sister, Dan got alcohol poisoning. Fortunately, his sister knew the confusion and imbalance were signs of something seriously wrong, and made sure he stayed in the hospital to recover. After 24 days in the hospital, he moved back in with his sister, where he was able to stay alcohol-free for a year and a half.

Determined to become independent, Dan did what he knew best — moved from his sister’s house and set up a camp. At first, Dan said that being homeless was kind of exciting. “There is something new around each corner,” he says. “Eventually, your stomach is growling, and you don’t have a penny in your pocket.”

Things changed drastically for Dan when he fell down a hill and couldn’t get up. He laid there for six to eight hours until he saw a man walking a dog and asked him to call an ambulance. At the hospital, he discovered he had broken his neck, but because he couldn’t afford physical therapy, he was forced to leave the hospital early. He moved back in with his sister, doing physical therapy there, instead.

As a result of his injury, Dan qualified for Social Security benefits. He was referred to SAVE, Inc. Intake Specialist Ellen Channels by his Ryan White case manager. Shortly after, he moved into Stepping Stones transitional housing facility. Since then, he lived at Cropsey Place for a couple of years, and now is at Save Home, SAVE, Inc.’s 24-hour staffed facility.

Today, Dan can walk, but because of his lack of balance and limited movement in his right leg and arm, often falls. He says that SAVE Home is a good fit for him, because he has the company of the other residents, but the house is quiet and he is able to live independently. He is less stressed than he has been in a long time, he says, and just tries to live a day at a time.