In 2010 the closest thing Anthony Freeman had to a home was a bunk at Catholic Charities’ Secure Waiting in Minneapolis.
Now, he is able to see life from the other side.
Once homeless, Anthony now works full time as a management aide for Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, an agency helping people get into homes. He also works part-time at Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground Minneapolis, which replaced Secure Waiting to offer an innovative housing and shelter service to those most in need.
Because of his experience, he has a better understanding of the journey of those experiencing homelessness. The cause of his homelessness was twofold, being downsized from his longtime profession and crushing debt. He had been working with waterworks for most of his career, working on ships in his younger years and later for municipalities. When he lost his job, he sought anything he could find, including truck driving and food service.
“Because of my education level, I wasn’t able to get good jobs,” he explained.
With Catholic Charities, Anthony found a way to begin again, in more ways than one. He stayed in the Pay for Stay section of the shelter, which helped him save money for his apartment. He got a job working at the airport—making less than $10 an hour but still enough to save up funds and erase old debts.
“Once I was able to get out of the amount of debt I was under, I could breathe again and that was a beautiful thing,” he said.
He worked at the airport for four years, making sure planes were filled with food and sodas, but the job and no opportunity to advance. Looking for more opportunity, Anthony attended MCTC for addiction counseling.
Through Catholic Charities’ Rapid Re-Housing program, Anthony was able to move out of the shelter and into an apartment.
He later started working as a caretaker there to save money on rent.
Through a lot of hard work and carving out his own opportunities, Anthony was able to get ahead, out of debt and into a field working toward the greater good.
Coming back to Catholic Charities and working on the other side of the counter, as it were, was important to him. He started with Catholic Charities in 2014, first part time, then full time and now back to part time as he works his other job. Catholic Charties, it seems, is hard for Anthony to leave behind.
“I was successful because of Catholic Charities,” he said. “You want to come back and give back. I was homeless and now I’m not. Homelessness is widespread. It covers all education levels, all colors—people are homeless for a wide array of reasons.”
While Anthony may be able to relate to clients better than most, he recognizes not everyone got to the shelter the same way he did, and his method out isn’t going to work for everyone either.
“The loss of home does something to a person. I consider myself very lucky. I used to make plans. Now I just try to make the best out of every situation.”