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A Home for Derek

November 05, 2021


Derek* suffered a severe brain injury as a child in a car accident that killed his mother. Now in his early 30s, he has spent the last seven years in an out of homelessness in York and Hanover. He came to Gettysburg Hospital in September 2020 and was connected with South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP) – because Derek had nowhere to go. A space opened at the Adams County Homeless Shelter, he moved into the shelter and found himself surrounded by supportive staff. He quickly made friends with some of the other residents.

Derek always works, but he struggles to keep a job. He works hard but his disabilities make learning hard and he struggles to meet expectations. During his time at the shelter, he had seven jobs, mostly cleaning or dishwashing. Unable to drive, he needs to walk to resources and employment. Derek does not, and has never had, Social Security Disability. Coming from a very poor family with limited resources, Derek must have fallen through the cracks. His case worker completed the application, but the process can take years.

South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP) staff worked with Derek to find housing in Gettysburg. He filled out an application with the Adams County Housing Authority. Because he is homeless and has a brain injury, Derek was moved to the top of the list and received his voucher within six weeks. But housing in Gettysburg is hard to find and housing that will accept a voucher is nearly impossible. There were several times he wanted to give up, but staff worked to keep him engaged and moving forward.

In December, he got a lead on a small apartment on Water Street. He could walk where he needed to, and he could still access the case management support he needed. The apartment was approved, and Derek moved in early January. He was so excited. Derek had his own bed – his own bed! He was so excited and so appreciative.

It took a little over four months for Derek’s life to change from someone living on the streets and staying with “new friends” to having secure, affordable housing. Derek is positive, wants to work hard, and gives everything his all. But he needed guidance and appropriate support - he needed a long-term plan, somewhere safe to stay, and someone to help him put the pieces in place.

The support of WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital and the Gettysburg Hospital Foundation enabled us to change the trajectory of Derek’s life, improve his health, and give him a new future story.

*His name was changed to protect his privacy.