After spending years in the military, John Murnahan (pictured right) never expected to experience housing insecurity. By all accounts, he was doing everything “right.” He had a steady job, was working hard and did his best to make ends meet. However, like many people in Miami, his fixed income didn’t stand a chance against the city’s rising housing costs.
Before Murnahan knew it, he was homeless.
“The traumatic effects of the military can create panic situations and the lack of routine and safety can quickly spiral into a situation where you can become homeless,” Murnahan, who worked with heavy lift cranes in the army, said. Instead of allowing his conditions to get worse, Murnahan turned to Camillus House for help. The organization, which focuses on offering housing and supportive services to individuals and families, was able to offer Murnahan safe and stable housing. He claims Camillus House “has been a blessing itself,” and he resides in accommodations that were designated specifically to veterans.
Murnahan is part of Camillus’s GPD Low-Demand Program, which is funded by the US Department of Veterans. One of the main focuses of this therapeutic program is to help veterans find and a secure place to call home.
He’s grateful for the little conveniences that come with having stable housing, like being able to iron his clothes before he goes to work. “Having a place to stay allows you to get other important areas of your life back,” he said. However, in Murnahan’s case, getting a roof over his head was only a fraction of the battle. Since he was missing so many important pieces of identification, he assumed obtaining new copies would be the most arduous part of moving toward a new future.
That wasn’t the case, though.
Camillus House has designated staff members who help individuals like Murnahan obtain ID documents that might have gotten lost or stolen at different points in their lives. His clinician, Item Etefia, helped him when he was “in a state,” and has been integral in helping Murnahan accomplish the tasks he needs to gain a sense of control in his life again.
“Some organizations don’t have the social workers to fulfill the needs like getting birth certificates or state IDs, but the best thing about Camillus House is that brought the service to us on campus,” Murnahan said. “For about two years, I never had a state ID, and it was a blessing the fact that I could get one through Camillus House.”
Now that Murnahan’s basic needs are met, he’s focusing on reorienting himself toward a new future. His major goal is to have his own home again, which is now a possibility thanks to the veteran services he has become connected through from Camillus House. Together with great community partners, veterans like Murnahan can make their dreams for a new life a reality.