The First Step to Get Off the Streets? A Room of His Own.

Theron Truluck has everything he needs, for now, in his 425-square-foot apartment in the Bronx. The modest dorm-style room, with white walls and red-tiled floors, comes with a mini fridge, a microwave, a sink, a twin-size bed, a desk and an armoire. He also has access to a shared shower and bathroom, a community kitchen, and his building has a computer room when he wants to use the internet.

Mr. Truluck, 52, does not own a phone or earn an income, but his home has given him four walls and a roof so he can stay warm. It also provides him with the structure he said he needs to try and overcome more than a decade of chronic homelessness and addiction to alcohol and drugs, like PCP and cocaine, so he can move forward with his life goals.

Mr. Truluck was living mostly on the Q train when he was approached by a city outreach worker at a station on Coney Island in November 2022. He told the outreach worker he was homeless and cold, and that he didn’t like living in some of the city’s homeless shelters, where he had experienced a lot of violence. He recalled being attacked, robbed and nearly sexually assaulted at one shelter in Harlem in 2018.

Following that encounter with the outreach worker, and a monthlong stay at a city low-barrier homeless shelters in Brooklyn, where he received a range of supportive services, Mr. Truluck was placed in the city’s newly formed Streets to Housing pilot program, run by the city in partnership with Volunteers of America-Greater New York. The program is based on the housing first model, a strategy to address rising rates of unsheltered homelessness.

Through housing first, individuals experiencing homelessness are moved into permanent housing without preconditions or barriers to entry that often come with a number of needed support services.

New York’s pilot program provides permanent housing to 80 unsheltered homeless people, including Mr. Truluck, along with supportive services such as job training, medical or mental health care, and substance abuse treatment. The program helps them obtain documents needed and also connects them to rental assistance.

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