TONY

"I died and left my body. I Angeled. I call it that because I met my angel when I died. I went to a place beyond here, beyond our galaxy. It was heaven but their language and alphabet are completely different, not of this world. Heaven and Hell are on the same plain, sharing the same space. I learned that Hell is attachments to material possessions and resentments. 
After some time, my angel told me I had to come back to earth, that I haven’t finished my lessons. I remember talking to a bird before I returned. Birds are small because their understanding is that good. The bird explained what I must do when I return to my body.

When I came back to life it was horrible because all I wanted to do was stay in heaven and I will do anything I can to get back there.

Before I died, I was homeless. I spent 15 years of my life on the streets. The first three years were amazing. I loved the freedom, but after three years, your health begins to fade, your laughter fades, and it just becomes about surviving. You forget how to take care of yourself when you’re homeless for so long and it can be impossible to find housing and a job.

After I died and came back, I went to San Francisco where I spent time in a mental facility. They helped me become sober and stable enough to feel relaxed about entering back into society. People don’t understand how hard it is to re-establish into normal society and to have a home or space to live in after being on the streets for such a long time. It’s really easy to relapse and fall back into bad patterns.

I’m on social security now. Which takes care of my basic needs, but it really doesn’t allow me to move forward. I cannot save money to plan for a future because if I have over $2000 dollars in my account they will discontinue my benefits and I will be back on the streets again. It’s not really freedom, but I have changed my life and it’s better than being on the streets where even if you don’t have money they will find a way to get money out of you. When you’re homeless, they give you tickets for sleeping on the streets or drinking, or loitering and these tickets add up fast. If you don’t have money they make you pay through jail time.

I have worked very hard to get myself a place here in my hometown - Santa Barbara. Peoples Self Help Housing helped me get the first place that I can call home since I was 18 years old. I am really grateful for the housing because I have to stay on track in order to keep my space. This gives me the structure to live my life off of the streets and drug-free.

Sometimes, I think Santa Barbara can feel like hell, but I’m back here on earth so I can do better so I can go back to heaven and live in peace.

If it weren’t for the mental facility that I went to, I wouldn’t have had the ability to make these changes in my life and I believe that Santa Barbara needs a facility like that. It would significantly help many people on the streets to transition into a better life for themselves."

Nathan Williamson