In 2012, the Dorothy Day House opened in Rochester, NY under the “Housing First” philosophy, the idea that people need stable and consistent shelter before other personal issues can be addressed. The program provides transitional housing for homeless individuals who wouldn’t qualify or have been barred from other programs or subsidized housing options. Most residents suffer from severe chemical dependency, mental illness, or both.

One individual at the Dorothy Day House best illustrated the internal turmoil that makes stability seemingly out of reach. Bradley Loce openly admits that his alcoholism has been the source of decades of chronic homelessness, dreams unattained, and estrangement from his family. Continuing in the pattern of familiar pain, Bradley ended up leaving the Dorothy Day House in 2014, and is once again homeless.

I do not see Bradley as an “other.” Bradley is his own worst enemy and I can relate to that. His drinking makes the mirror much kinder. After a short stay in rehab, he hardly recognized his apartment, left trashed as if someone else had done it. The sobriety lasted less than 24 hours, and the lens in which he saw his life was, once again, whatever he wanted it to be.

Throughout the Dorothy Day House there were many connections between each individual’s story and those similarities are themes that I will continue to explore. One commonality was that these men, unlike someone who had fallen on bad circumstance as an adult, were lost as adolescents and never found their way back to the path of stability. Despite good intentions and compassion, the Dorothy Day House was still not able to provide a solution for everybody; that there is no easy fix for chronic homelessness. This broader look the house can be viewed here: