Jeremy was just 10 when he became homeless.
“I was 10 years old and living on the street by myself,” he says. “It’s scary out there when you’re a kid. So I started running with bikers and whoever I could to keep myself warm and safe, which wasn’t really the safest.”
By the time he was 11, he was using drugs.
Jeremy bounced around for 12 years before meeting Aleeyah, who was also living on the streets. Aleeyah was put in foster care when she was three and moved from house to house until she aged out of the system at 18 and also fell prey to drug addiction.
“I took care of myself growing up,” Aleeyah says.
In spite of their addictions and tragic background, they were determined to make it as a couple.They wanted the one thing they’d never had – a family. But without a strong educational background or job skills, they struggled to make ends meet, even when they tried to care for their children.
From Bad to Worse
One winter they lived in a trailer that had no heat and was infested with rats.
“When it was the coldest, I stayed in there by myself and just covered up,” Jeremy remembers.
“That was the worst,” Aleeyah says.
But from there, things didn’t get much better. Another organization tried to help them find stable housing but set them up in a house that had bedbugs and mold growing everywhere.
“We left everything behind and threw everything out. We started all over again,” says Aleeyah.
Hope and a New Life
Eventually they ended up living in their van until they heard about the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Now they are off the streets, totally sober and getting the help they need to build a whole new life.
They’ve made so much progress they’ve already been reunited with their kids!
“This place is amazing,” Aleeyah says.
“It’s stable for my kids,” Jeremy adds. “I know my kids will never have to grow up like I did.”