They're just amazing people... they put you before themselves."

Michael used to sleep on the streets, a knife tucked in the side of his wheelchair in case of attack, living in what he calls “Kill or Be Killed” mode. Now he has his own apartment in North Philadelphia.  

He frequently skipped taking his prescribed anti-psychotic medications — sometimes forgetting, other times because of the expense — and he would punish himself for this oversight by swallowing razor blades. Today, his drug regimen is easier to follow and he feels better than he has in years.   

When Michael was unhoused, he didn’t have family or friends to support him. Now he has the team at Prevention Point Philadelphia (PPP).  

“They’re just amazing people,” says Michael, 42, noting that Alison and Dee’s time and energy showed him that he mattered. “They put you before themselves.”  

Michael, a Philadelphia native, says he’s felt alone for a long time. Left largely on his own growing up, he was incarcerated as a juvenile. As an adult, he served two prison terms, about 16 years total, for crimes including bank robbery and drug trafficking.  

Two years ago, Michael was released from jail. But he had nowhere to live and no means of making money to survive. To make matters even worse, Michael was struck by a train, losing one leg and aggravating existing traumatic brain injuries.  

Michael had utilized PPP’s services before his accident, but now his needs were even greater. Still, he knew he could be “real” with the staff. He knew they would help him without judging him. 

Michael’s PPP care team got him through multiple hospitalizations, most for his mental health issues. At one point, PPP staffers picked up Michael when he left one medical facility and drove him to another.  

In a six-month span, the team took Michael to more than two dozen psych evaluations. They made countless medical appointments on his behalf and made sure he didn’t miss him. That follow-through, he says, made a huge difference, giving him access to much-needed care.  

"I can finally put my name on things." 

Michael had had negative experiences while staying in group shelters and was reluctant to go to one. His care team patiently lobbied him until he changed his mind. He lived in PPP’s Beacon House and then at St. Columba, one of Project HOME's safe havens that follows a harm reduction model.  

In November 2023, Michael moved into his own apartment, filling it with donated furniture. “I can finally put my name on things,” he said at the time.  

His life now versus his life two years ago?  “It’s like night and day.” 

“I don’t have to worry. I go to sleep when I want to. I wake up when I want to,” he says. “I made it because of Prevention Point.”