Greg Francis serves on the Planning Council for Health Care for the Homeless Network of PHSKC: “I had unmet health needs and only after I started to take care of myself, did I have the energy to get out.” Courtesy photo

Greg Francis serves on the Planning Council for Health Care for the Homeless Network of PHSKC: “I had unmet health needs and only after I started to take care of myself, did I have the energy to get out.” Courtesy photo

Staying involved helped one man out of homelessness, and empower others | Public Health Insider

Having a cause and advocating for others helped Greg Francis leave homelessness behind.

  • Friday, June 22, 2018 10:15am
  • News

The following is written by Rekha Ravindran, Health Care for the Homeless Network, for Public Health Insider:

Over the past decade, Greg Francis has moved into stable housing after living unsheltered – and he still remembers vividly what it was like to live unsheltered.

“It was tough,” he says. “It felt like someone else was controlling my life. So I came up with a plan.”

He partially credits activism, such as through his participation on Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Healthcare for the Homeless Network (HCHN) Planning Council.

Greg’s journey began in Long Island, NY. Feeling dissatisfied with life on the East Coast, he made his way West and ended up in San Francisco, where he first experienced homelessness. He found himself increasingly isolated and dealing with mental health issues, while remaining unsheltered.

On advice of his case managers, he became more involved in advocating for the needs of people experiencing homelessness. “What was really helpful in my development was being involved in the greater community,” he says, “with people who were involved in solutions to address homelessness.”

He found himself particularly motivated to address the intersection of health and homelessness. “You need to put a lot of energy to find housing,” he says. “I had unmet health needs and only after I started to take care of myself, did I have the energy to get out.”

MOVING TO SEATTLE, RESISTING ISOLATION

He continued to serve as an advocate on numerous coalitions addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. But following a personal tragedy, Greg set out for Seattle.

And soon after he arrived, he found ways to remain active and interactive in the community. That helped him eventually move into supportive housing and then his own apartment. He now serves as co-chair on HCHN’s Planning Council.

From Greg’s experience, it’s important for people who are homeless to resist isolation and remain connected with the community at large. That’s one way to avoid developing a self-image that says they are fundamentally a homeless person.

“We need to find a place where people can engage on their terms, a place they are invested in. That’s my goal,” he says.

A ROLE FOR EVERYONE

There’s also a role for the community at large, all the residents of King County – by helping to create and support those places where people can have meaningful and ongoing interactions.

Similar Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) programs across the country are honoring their community members today (June 21), through the National HCH Council – people like Greg, who have demonstrated exceptional capacity moving forward after experiencing and overcoming homelessness.

According to All Home King County’s 2018 Count Us In report, there were an estimated 12,000 people experiencing homelessness in King County on January 26, 2018. Though Greg has faced many obstacles in his journey out of homelessness, he continues to fight for the needs of the thousands still struggling.

More in News

‘Activity backpacks’ for exploring state parks to be available at your local library

There are several guidelines to make checking out the backpacks a smooth process.

Sharing the love this Valentine’s Day

Crestwood Elementary student Kinzi Hansen organized a Valentines Box drive so every elementary student in her school district could celebrate the holiday.

Man pleads not guilty to rape of local teen

Errol Leon Vanpevenage, Jr., admitted to knowing the 17-year old was underage, and allegedly threatened her and her family if she broke off contact.

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, activists fight youth incarceration in King County

No New Youth Jail Coalition members send Valentines to King County officials asking them to reconsider funding priorities

Buckley Hall to host Pierce County “history day”

Come learn about your area nearly two dozen historical societies.

In Buckley, more storage units on 410, beer and wine downtown

Wood, Wine, & Whimsy got their alcohol license Feb. 12.

Final work begins this week on Buckley traffic lights

Police will be guiding traffic on state Route 410 in Buckley Feb. 14, 20, and 21, so plan accordingly.

Task force to take on fate of Sumner pool

A new task force — which is still accepting applications from the community — may not only decide the future of the aquatic center, but the overall Sumner High School renovation project.

Southbound traffic backs up as northbound drivers cruise on with ease on the Highway 99 viaduct on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
WSDOT hopes ‘Viadoom’ habits continue

The department credits commuters with adapting to the closure and mitigating impacts.

Most Read