Texas Homeless Network

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The Value of Sharing Your Recovery From Homelessness

The Value of Sharing Your Recovery from Homelessness

By: Tammy Chan

Dear Reader, 

I am a member of the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care (TX BoS CoC) Lived Experience Committee (LEC). I’m writing this post to share part of my journey and some things that I have come to see and believe are very important. 

Tammy Chan on dry Texas rural land in front of the GPHOO outreach vanI have experienced unsheltered homelessness twice in my life and then stayed in a shelter and went through a two-year transitional living program that helped me get back on my feet. Through each homeless experience, I felt shame and isolated myself and didn’t want anyone to know what I was going through. I tried to hide the situations.

The one thing I dreaded most was talking to someone about my situation. I didn’t want advice.

I wanted to figure things out myself, so that I could consider all the things that I felt needed to be considered, some of which I couldn’t explain. I didn’t know I wanted options, but I found when people gave me options, that is what gave me hope. 

I also found the thing that gave me the MOST hope was when the shelter brought in some speakers with lived experience who had exited homelessness and were doing better.

Tammy Chan and meal delivery volunteersI knew they had been through what I was going through. I listened more intently when they shared and deeply considered what they said. They gave me hope. 

Looking back, I’m thankful that the shelter had a program that invited people with lived experience to share. They were all different and colorful. Some of them had even become leaders in programs that were designed to help people exit homelessness.

Now I am like them. I have exited homelessness – with lots of help – and am working to help others exit homelessness. Since doing this work, I learned there is an empowering movement to get people who have exited homelessness (it’s called “lived experience”) to get more involved. We have insights for those experiencing homelessness and for homeless organizations that only come from living through homelessness.

Tammy Chan and Asia Times Square VolunteersI’m excited and thankful to say that the Texas BoS CoC Board has voted to include people with lived experience on ALL of their CoC committees. They truly value the insight from lived expertise and want to hear us share.  That’s exciting!

Now, we need more people with lived experience to participate in the committees. 

If you have lived experience of homelessness, please consider signing up to serve on a committee to represent the voice of lived experience and help the Texas BoS CoC figure out the best options, practices, and policies for helping others exit homelessness. 

Each CoC committee listed needs at least one lived experience representative:  

If you have lived experience and would be willing to serve on a CoC committee, please reach out to Mary Rychlik Stahlke, LMSW, Director of Engagement, at 512-861-2180, and she will guide you to the application. 

A portrait of Tammy Chan, a woman with short grey hair, clear glasses with a bright white smile. She is wearing a Columbia salmon-colored button up.

Thank you for “listening.” 

Tammy Chan 

TX BoS CoC LEC Member

The Value of Sharing Your Recovery From Homelessness
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