Lisa's Story: Finding Stability and Hope

Lisa (not her real name) is in her late 50’s and has been living at the McLaren Hotel since 2015. Her story includes growing up with health issues that affected her mental health and ability to live on her own.
“I had meningitis when I was a baby and it caused me to have learning difficulties. I had coordination problems; I was a bit clumsy. I had a desperate need to fit in.”
Lisa did live in a group home, as well as independent living situations with roommates. She also lived in rooming houses starting at the age of 19. “I learned that I can’t live with other people, so I struck out and I got my very first apartment in 1992.” She stayed in her first apartment for 13 years until the building was sold to new management. After moving between various temporary housing situations, Lisa found herself at the McLaren Hotel.
“I came to I came to McLaren, and I had my own rooms. I had my freedom, which was exhilarating. It wasn’t the room what I was hoping for; it was barren. The furniture was old, the mattresses were disgusting. And then I noticed we had rodent issues… mice in walls and the mice would come in the room.”

Matthew's Story: Overcoming Homelessness and Mental Health Challenges

Matthew is 34 years old and came to the McLaren Hotel after spending most of his life on the street. He started using crystal meth after the loss of his partner. 

Matthew has lived at the McLaren for about three years and has been sober now for one year, though it has not been easy for him, as he described: “When I walk out my door, there’s a trigger somewhere or something. The whole place is a trigger.”

Staying healthy, both physically and mentally is a priority for Matthew at this stage of his recovery. The supports available to him have helped, but there is a gap that makes recovery difficult. “Everything is unhealthy, so my physical health is just dwindling,” he said. 

The physical environment has also been important to his recovery: “You know, when you walk in your room, you want it to be welcoming. You want to feel good… it’s just the first thing you see in the morning and the first thing you see after your day…. When I first moved in there, I would find mice in there. Just the dilapidated state that the hotel is in, like the walls are ripping off and, you know, the water doesn’t work and… all those things affect you. You know what I mean? Like if you want to, you want to have a better life then you have to have better surroundings.”

Matthew thinks about the future and what he would like to see for himself. Even when he struggles to believe that he deserves a better quality of life, he is looking for a pathway forward: “I’m trying to get courage to get a job or get into Manitoba Housing; I’m trying to do it right this time. I’m telling myself positive affirmations like, ‘I do deserve’ and ‘I am appreciated’ or ‘I am deserving’…. I know who I am, but I’m still trying to figure that out, so like I’m kind of like a caterpillar going into a cocoon and coming out. You know right now, I’m in the cocoon trying to change myself.” ….

Finding Light in Life's Detours: Romano's Journey of Resilience

“Well, I’m not much of an adventurer anymore. I mean, I used to be. But I love getting up every morning – it’s a blessing to wake up.”
So begins the story of Romano, a resident of the McLaren Hotel. Seven years ago, a fire brought Romano to the McLaren Hotel. He had been living in a rooming house with 12 other people after having spent 18 months in a rehab facility.
At 64, Romano is nearing retirement age. He’s somewhat limited in his options for the future and he doesn’t have the same opportunities as other people moving towards retirement. But what becomes clear when speaking with Romano, is his ability to stay positive with seemingly very little to look forward to. “You know, I always try to smile and say hi to people… I think everybody wants somebody to care about them… You know that sort of atmosphere creates the same. You get that back, you know.”
If anything, Romano’s story shows that anyone’s life can take a wrong turn, as addiction played a role in Romano’s life early on. “I was living in the suburbs. I’ve been doing drugs… all my life. You know it doesn’t matter where and it’s much more far reaching than most people realize. These sorts of things, they touch everybody.”. …

(In memoriam) A Homeowner's Sacrifice: Charles' Journey from Domestic Turmoil to Temporary Shelter

Not everyone comes to the McLaren Hotel from homelessness Some residents come to an SRO after leaving their own house or apartment and residences like the McLaren save them from being entirely unsheltered.
Charles came to Canada with his mom, sister, and nephew in 2006. He arrived from Egypt after leaving his home country of South Sudan.
When Charles and his family first arrived, they stayed with his older sister who had sponsored the immigration process. She helped him find a job and he started taking classes to update his education, eventually taking courses at a university. His work made it possible for Charles to eventually buy his own house.
When he purchased his home, Charles had a girlfriend and two children of his own and they moved into the new house with him. But the domestic situation was not positive and his relationship with his girlfriend deteriorated, creating tension and stress in the home for him and his family.
To maintain a positive environment, Charles decided to move out and allow his girlfriend to stay in the home with their children. This was a temporary solution that they both agreed to, but it meant that Charles needed to find a new place to live. “I just walked away because I didn’t want to get the situation escalated, you know? I can handle it on my own.” The house that Charles owns is still in his name, but currently his girlfriend, two children, mom and sister live there without him. His hope is to give enough time for his girlfriend to find a different living arrangement so that he can move back into his home. …