Navigating Cincinnati's Stable Housing

Hello again, RISE readers! My name is Anna Hayes, and I am currently in recovery from heroin addiction. I have written for RISE a few times, but my life has significantly changed since the first time I was asked to contribute.

 Cincinnati Faces of Homelessness mural /  photo by Salvador Mendoza

Cincinnati Faces of Homelessness mural / photo by Salvador Mendoza

My first article was written a month after I was released from jail. At that time, I was living in a sober-living home and working for a construction cleaning company. I faced many obstacles during my first year out of jail. I had a tonsillectomy, I went through the humiliating trial of a family member, and I faced homelessness — all sober.

About six months into living in a Roselawn sober-living home, I decided to move out because the environment was negatively affecting my spirit and causing unnecessary anxiety. So I decided to take a new risk. I moved into the Esther Marie Hatton Shelter For Women, a shelter house for homeless women that provides case management, treatment services, a medical clinic, and more.

In the shelter, I lived in a small room with seven other women — seven different personalities. Everyone got up at different times, some were loud, and some were inconsiderate. Despite the chaotic environment, I became involved in a relapse-prevention group at the shelter. The group was laid-back, and we got to talk about our lives with other members.

 Anna Hayes in front of Faces of Homelessness Mural /  photo by Salvador Mendoza

Anna Hayes in front of Faces of Homelessness Mural / photo by Salvador Mendoza

I was later nominated by the group members to speak to Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts about homelessness and addiction. Senator Warren asked me how I thought money should be spent in relation to addiction and recovery. I said court-ordered treatment programs, and I was then quoted in WCPO and other news outlets.

Being at the shelter was frustrating at times, but it opened doors to opportunities, and, after two and a half months, I was given my own apartment in a sober living complex. Now, I live downtown, and I am a walk away from the Hamilton County Justice Center (HCJC) where I spent much time over the years.

Tracy Brumfield, the RISE founder, inspired me to reach out to others. I now talk to the women in HCJC’s recovery pod when I am asked, and in some cases, I attend their court dates. Also, I am happy to say I was released from drug court probation this past July; almost an exact year after being released from jail on July 18, 2017. Now, I am applying for a grant to start my own company.

So much can happen in a year. It hasn’t been easy, and I didn’t always believe I would make it through. I had to fight and believe that I was worth happiness and success.

We are all worthy. Every new day is a chance for us to do better. I worked to earn trust back. I cherish it now. My life is not perfect and it never will be. But I can still be grateful for what I have been given.

I have done a lot of bad things and have made a lot of bad choices. I have been in dark, lonely places. But life is change. We all have the power to begin a new path, and we have the potential to improve our lives. I believe in every one of you and will always be thinking of you.