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Formerly Homeless Resident Transitions to New Home

I owe it all to the grace of God,” said Clarence Blow, Sr., former resident of CHP’s Warwick SRO in Newport News, Virginia. Blow was speaking from the living room of his brand new two-bedroom apartment, a welcome upgrade from the studio apartment he resided in until recently at the Warwick SRO.

Built in 1883 as a luxury hotel, the refurbished Warwick SRO now provides housing to very low-wealth homeless and disabled individuals. As part of its mission to foster social sustainability, CHP offers on-site employment training and educational opportunities for the residents that promote self-sufficiency and economic stability. As a result of such support programs, Blow received notice in May that he was finally eligible for housing assistance that would allow him to move out of the Warwick and into a two-bedroom apartment.

Blow arrived at the Warwick SRO in March 2006. Before then, he was married, worked for the government, and had his own construction business. Unfortunately, he lost everything and ended up living out of his truck. “It got so bad, they actually repossessed my truck while I was in it.” said Blow of the hard times.

Eventually, he made his way to the Warwick, where he says the staff really know how to help a person in need. “The Warwick has all the tools you need to succeed, you just have to allow them to work for you,” said Blow.

Throughout his two years at the Warwick, Blow volunteered and participated in a number of self-sufficiency and skill-building classes delvered by Resident Services Coordinator Pamela Chandler. “It’s so inspiring for other residents to see him succeed and move out,” said Chandler, “But it’s also very sad. Everyone was crying-- including me!”

During his final weeks at the Warwick, Blow wrote all the residents and staff a letter, thanking them for his experience and also leaving words of advice. In his note, he reminded them that they can do anything “if they keep an open mind, stay positive, follow the rules, listen to the staff, and don’t let anybody dump the wrong trash in your can.”

Blow is now living in his own apartment with his 14-year old daughter. He especially looks forward to being a father and putting his daughter through high school and college. “It feels so good to be stronger and to be part of a community again,” said Blow. “If I can make it out of the Warwick, then anybody can. If just one other person moves, then I accomplished something!”