Harry was referred to BRC's Reception Center – a transitional living community for homeless men and women living with mental illness, located in Manhattan's Noho district – on March 13th, 2005. He had been living on the streets of Staten Island, where he almost lost his life due to the harsh elements and malnutrition. It was not his first visit to BRC.
Harry arrived at BRC with little more than hope, and not much of that, either. After a childhood filled with years of emotional and physical abuse, he had developed depression, a debilitating low self-esteem, and chronic alcoholism. Over the years this had led to his loss of employment, divorce from his wife, estrangement from his children, and ultimately homelessness. In addition, Harry suffers from a permanent traumatic brain injury, resulting from two severe head traumas he experienced during childhood. In spite of his brain injury, he had never applied for or received Social Security Disability Insurance. With the help of his BRC case manager, Harry filed his application, but was denied. With BRC at his side, Harry appealed the decision, and this time was successful. Still, he struggled to maintain his sobriety, disappearing from the program numerous times, often relapsing as well.
But BRC never gave up on Harry, and Harry never fully gave up on himself. While continuing to reside at the BRC Reception Center, he started attending BRC's Fred Cooper Substance Abuse Service Center, an outpatient program for addicts struggling to keep their sobriety, and named for a founding member of the Bowery Residents' Committee. His self-esteem began to improve and Harry began to make positive decisions about his quality of life. This month, he re-united with his children, and went to spend the holidays with them on Staten Island. And today, December 27, 2006, he is leaving BRC to live with his son.