Unrecognizable--that’s how Becky Kanis described the transformation of hundreds of thousands of homeless people once they are given a home.
“There is something that's really dehumanizing about living on the streets in so many ways,” Community Solutions’ Kanis told 60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper. “And then, really, in a matter of days, from having housing, the physical transformation is almost immediate and they're unrecognizable from their former selves.”
The program is known as the 100,000 Homes Campaign and it has given some of the most at-risk homeless people a home in an attempt to end chronic homelessness. This week, the campaign celebrated a new milestone when it exceeded the 100,000 mark. As of now, the organization and its partners have given permanent housing to 101,628 homeless individuals, including 31,171 veterans.
Following is a gallery of 15 different individuals who have made miraculous transformations. The photos and information have been provided to 60 Minutes Overtime by non-profit organizations and those working closely with these individuals to secure housing and recovery.
“Wild Bill” Whatley
BEFORE: "Wild Bill" Whatley of Fort Worth, Texas, worked as a plumber before he became homeless.
“Wild Bill” Whatley
AFTER: Today, with the help of the Directions Home, Bill lives in an apartment and collects social security. He's 65 years old and those who know him, say he's been sober for four years. Whatley tells his buddies, "If I can do it, anyone can."
BEFORE: Anna Henson, 35, wound up homeless in Fort Worth, Texas after a break-up with her boyfriend.
AFTER: The Tarrant County MHMR helped Anna find an apartment where she currently lives today. A variety of services for her food, transportation, and counseling have also been provided.
BEFORE: Donald Shelton was homeless for 15 years. Much of that time was spent in front of Union Station in Washington, DC, where he was often referred to as “The General.”
AFTER: In August 2010, Donald was placed in an apartment with his cat, Crystal. When asked what housing means to him, Donald said, "You have your privacy and it’s yours.”
BEFORE: Deborah Hill lived in an encampment in Houston for approximately two years with her husband, Robert Wright, and their faithful dog, Pork Chop.
AFTER: In November 2012, Deborah and Robert received permanent affordable housing. In this new chapter of their lives, they have managed to raise their income and begin treating chronic medical conditions.
BEFORE: For 12 years, Sylvia White was homeless-- sleeping on concrete or in the woods behind shopping centers. Mental illness caused Sylvia, a mother of four, to become isolated and extremely vulnerable.
AFTER: In March 2013, Sylvia was placed in housing with the help of the Community Alliance for the Homeless. Although it took months for her to trust her support team and get the help she needed, she has made significant strides. She has also reconnected with her family.
BEFORE: In April 2010, Helmut Hermans was found sleeping on a bus stop bench in Hollywood, Calif. At the age of 80, Helmut had been evicted from the home where he had lived for more than 40 years; it was located less than a mile from the bus stop.
AFTER: While surveying the homeless people in the neighborhood, the Hollywood Property Alliance found Helmut sleeping on the bench. The group ranked Helmut first-- out of 250 homeless people-- in an evaluation of those most likely to perish on the streets of Hollywood unless given immediate housing.
With the help of the Alliance, Helmut moved into an SRO Hotel in Hollywood. Caseworkers found him an apartment in November 2010. He died in August 2011 at the age of 81.
BEFORE: Penny Mull was homeless for four years, while living in Long Beach, Calif. With the help of the MHA Homeless Innovations Project, Penny was able to obtain the financial and health benefits she needed.
AFTER: Penny was given a home of her own in June 2013. She has lived there with her new puppy for the last year.
BEFORE: Brenda Goss was homeless and living in the woods for more than 10 years. When asked what kept her alive, she said, “A whole lot of the Lord.”
AFTER: Today, with the help of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Brenda lives in a home in Fort Worth, Texas, with her companion Michael.
BEFORE: Disabled since childhood, Erwin was homeless for 15 years. Five of those years were spent on the streets of Memphis, where he refused shelter during ice and snow storms. Caseworkers say he drank alcohol to cope with the cold.
AFTER: After moving into a home in January 2014, Erwin cut back on drinking and started attending group meetings with others who had faced homelessness. Today, Erwin is on his way to recovery.
BEFORE: David Huck was living in Milwaukee, Wis., working as an accountant when he lost his home. Huck lived on the streets for 10 years before he made contact with the MHA Homeless Innovations Project in Long Beach, Calif.
AFTER: In June 2013, with the help of the Innovations Project, David found a home. He is currently working towards a career in stand-up comedy and says he is seeing a dentist to give him an extra boost of confidence.
BEFORE: New Jersey-born George Siletti struggled with homelessness for approximately 30 years. He was accustomed to sleeping under a bridge, asking for spare change, and eating out of garbage cans or at soup kitchens.
AFTER: In 2003, George moved to an apartment in upper northwest DC. He found that simple things like owning a phone and a mailbox made him feel like part of the community.
At 57, George is a board member and on the speaker's bureau of Friendship Place, a DC nonprofit that helps the homeless. George, a self-described "news buff," has a goal of getting his G.E.D.
BEFORE: This is Patricia Newton during a period of homelessness.
AFTER: Patricia found a home in Santa Monica, Calif., with the help of the Ocean Park Community Center.
BEFORE: George Holmes lived on and off the streets of Jacksonville, Fla., for nearly a decade.
AFTER: With the assistance of 100 Homes Jacksonville and Mental Health Resource Center, George was placed in an apartment in January 2012 in Mt. Carmel Gardens, Fla. He’s 73 years old.
“Sometimes people that have been homeless seem hard, they tend to show very little emotion, but when we walked into his apartment for the first time, he actually started crying," said Melanie Adams, George’s case manager. "His face lit up. Looking around at all the furniture and the old TV that had been donated, he just couldn’t believe it was all for him."
BEFORE: At the age of 14, Bethany Willyard ran away from an abusive home and began to use drugs. She spent years of her life homeless, in prison, and in mental institutions.
AFTER: Earlier this year, with the help of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, Bethany moved into her own apartment. She has maintained her sobriety for the last two years and today, she has a career helping others overcome homelessness at the Denver House, a peer-run agency in Tulsa, Okla.
BEFORE: Wanda Rayborn, age 63, was homeless for nine years and found living under a tree in San Diego in 2012.
AFTER: With the help of The Campaign to End Homelessness in downtown San Diego, Wanda now lives in a newly renovated supportive housing apartment. Connections Housing, where Wanda is housed, is operated by PATH (People Assisting The Homeless).