Pete Cassidy walks with a purpose through the streets he once wandered, helping people who used to be in his position.

After he woke up in a jail cell one morning charged with murder after a drug-filled night he couldn't remember, Cassidy started to clean up his life as the case went through the courts and charges were eventually tossed out.

He founded a program called StreetSmarts, now run through Jewish Family Services, to get clothing and other essentials to people living on the streets and struggling with addiction.

"The next time you see somebody who's homeless just remember, that person could be your son or your daughter, or your mother or your father, or your grandparents. More importantly, it could be you," he said.

"That's the reality — doesn't take much to become homeless."

Cassidy will be one of dozens of human "books" available at the third annual Human Library, a partnership between CBC Ottawa and the Ottawa Public Library.

On Jan. 25, anyone interested can visit one of five participating branches and "check out" a book for a 20-minute conversation.

Cassidy will be at the main branch at 120 Metcalfe Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more details, visit CBC Ottawa's Human Library page and the Ottawa Public Library's website.