July 2, 2013 3:55 pm

Moncton YWCA program helps homeless women get off the streets

MONCTON — Moncton’s Shelley Terrio never dreamed she’d end up living alone, in her car with what little she owns shoved into the back seat. But that’s exactly where she found herself this past May.

“I would get in my car hang on to my keys and put them between my legs and put my seat back and try to get 20 minutes of sleep and wake up and start all over again,” says Terrio.

Terrio says her journey to homelessness started just over 10 years ago. She had a roof over her head and was earning a steady income until about the age of 31, when chronic back pain caused by scoliosis of the spine took over her life.

“I spent most of my days in bed and then depression really set in because I was not a part of society anymore, I had lost my ability to work.”

Forced to live only on her disability income, Terrio’s life took a dark turn.

“I ended up in the psych ward in 2001 and in 2003 after taking enormous overdoses and being on life support for 72 hours and I was not supposed to live.”

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Terrio survived, but since then she has struggled to survive financially. In May of this year, her life hit an all time low when she could no longer afford a home to live in and she started living in her car. Night after night she says he was gripped by fear that someone might find out that she was homeless.

“I just didn’t feel like I was anything I just felt like I was taking up space.”

Terrio sat alone, hiding away from the world. That when those suicidal thoughts began drifting back into her mind.

“Death, that was the only thing that I could conclude would end my suffering cause I had no other option.”

Until a family member lead her to Michele Nadeau.

Nadeau runs the YWCA program, A Home for Her, that houses homeless women in Greater Moncton.

“We get to hear their stories and then if we are able to place them we do have apartments that are scattered though the Greater Moncton area.” says Nadeau.

Through A Home for Her, homeless women are paired up with roommates and housed in fully furnished apartments for one year. The program started last October and is not subsidized. So participants are required to pay 350 dollars in rent a month to live in their apartments. They are also required to take part in support counselling to learn how to get back on and stay on their feet financially and emotionally. Nadeau says the program’s goal is to empower women.

Terrio enrolled in the program just over a month ago. Now, instead of sleeping in her car, she sleeps in her own bed every night. She says her back still aches every day, but she says it’s nothing compared to the pain of being homeless.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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