Back in 2019, Aria, then known as Jacob, left an emotionally abusive relationship without a stable place to go. After couch surfing for a time, she found an opportunity to come to New Jersey to attend college. But once she arrived, no one was able to cosign on student loans and without a plan for what to do next, she ended up living on the streets of Paterson. After four months on the streets, the anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma of her situation led to Aria being admitted to Morristown Medical Center. When she was discharged she ended up in Homeless Solutions’ Warming Center.
Aria, still using the name Jacob, was admitted into the Single Men’s Program.
Moving into the shelter was not easy. Aria was still hiding who she was on top of the fears and stresses of being homeless. With the help of Homeless Solutions’ staff she began to have hope. She remembers the shelter as a community, where everyone is in the same boat, rowing in the same direction.
She credits all of the staff and volunteers who helped her, but especially “Leo, who was always on the ball, Elizabeth who was always checking in with me, and Kayla who helped me immensely.”
Aria received a voucher from DCA and is living in an apartment furnished by The Warehouse NJ; she recently completed an IT course and earned two certificates in cyber security which helped her land a new job. She is continuing her transition process and has big plans for her future. She says “city living is for me” and is hoping to buy her own condo in 3-4 years. She’s also looking forward to volunteering at a shelter for LGBTQ+ homeless in the city.
It’s amazing the strength and self-confidence one can gain when they have that, “Hand Up” and are given the support and resources they need to get back on their feet and succeed. “I’ve won,” she says. “You don’t win if you don’t try. Trying is winning.”