MaryAnne lived homeless for nearly 20 years before moving into Prelude, one of HomeSpace’s 27 buildings.
In 1975, when she was just a girl, MaryAnne was taken from her birth parents and placed with foster parents after witnessing her father violently abuse her mother. Her older siblings all went to different homes. In her new foster home, MaryAnne experienced anxiety, nervousness and bad dreams. Eventually she grew to enjoy living with her foster parents and graduated high school in 1985 at age 19.
MaryAnne chose to move out after graduating, feeling she did not want to be a burden on her foster parents. MaryAnne lived periodically with friends in the Bowness community and worked two part time cleaning jobs. She didn’t have a vehicle but managed to get to work between the bus and a friend who would sometimes give her a ride. In 1998, she lost her jobs due to her struggles with alcohol addiction and ended up homeless.
In 1998, MaryAnne met her partner who was also experiencing homelessness.
“Being homeless was awful,” she says. “All we had were sleeping bags and a tarp. It was freezing. The worst part was when you had to go to the washroom and it was freezing out. Sometimes we stayed at the DI or Alpha House or the Mustard Seed and didn’t have to sleep outside.”
In May 2017, construction was completed on Prelude in Radisson Heights. MaryAnne didn’t know it yet, but she was about to receive a home, after 19 years of experiencing homelessness.
“I was staying at the DI and I remember the day the staff told me, ‘We have a home for you.’ That was in April 2017 and then I moved in July 2017. Now, I’ve been here three years.”
MaryAnne’s partner was also able to be housed in the same building. The two lived as next door neighbours until he passed away in March of 2019, after 21 years of being together.
“I knew he was going to die, but he didn’t want to go to a hospital. He was happy here and he wanted to die here. He’s in Heaven now.”
MaryAnne was devastated after his passing. In her grief, she told The Alex staff at Prelude she wanted to go back to the streets, but they talked her into staying in her home.
“My man would be happy for me for staying,” she says. “I’m really happy I stayed. It’s comfortable and quiet here and the staff are good. I’m a good neighbour; I don’t make it loud in my place.” MaryAnne enjoys doing puzzles, watching TV and movies, visiting with her friends in the building and cooking – especially scrambled eggs and bacon! She also enjoys cleaning and helping where she can, such as raking the leaves outside. She plans to stay for the rest of her life.
“I don’t get bad dreams anymore,” says MaryAnne, gazing upon the many dream catchers decorating the walls of her home.
“My hope is for everyone homeless to get housed. I want them to know there’s help out there for them, if they choose to take the opportunity. There are buildings like Prelude, and I want the people who build them to know they are helping.”