07/18/2011 02:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Homeless to Housing Success Story: Meet Donny in His Apartment

This past March, I was in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, speaking at a homeless conference. Whenever I can, I ask to be taken out with an outreach team to meet new people. I have to be honest, there is a reason I moved from upstate New York to sunny Southern California -- I hate cold! It was so cold, I thought my face was going to fall off. I was close to asking them to take me back to the warm car when we saw a man in a doorway.


Donny has been homeless over twenty years. Watch the original video I taped that night here. He had nothing but a blanket and the heating vent from a local business to stay warm. I honestly don't know how he survived.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Calgary Homeless Foundation, Donny now has a home. After Donny's video was posted, the Calgary Homeless Foundation went out and found him to get Donny into housing! This is a near-textbook model of why the Housing First model works. It's nearly impossible to get sober while living on the streets. People need dignity and self-worth. Once Donny was in an apartment, he decided to change his life. He has stopped using drugs and is even looking for a job.

I was honored to spend some time with Donny this week. CTV News also covered the story with a powerful video you can watch here.