Formerly homeless man helps others find housing
A study lifted Carl Tebo out of homelessness. Now he's giving back.
There was a time when Carl Tebo didn't know where his next meal was coming from. Today, two years after getting housing, he delights in feeding other people who are on the edge financially.
"The drawer is full," Tebo announced opening his fridge. Sure enough, limes, potatoes, red and green peppers and apples - lots of apples - fill the drawer to the brim.
"I make a big apple crisp," Tebo said. "So I need lots of apples."
Tebo's journey into homelessness and addiction began 20 years ago. At his lowest point, he was living under the Gardiner Expressway near the Spadina Avenue ramp, panhandling on the Lakeshore to feed his cocaine addiction, and coughing uncontrollably.
"At Home/Chez Soi" — part study, part demonstration project — housed a randomly selected group, on the condition that they cover a third of the monthly rent from their government cheques. A control group received addictions treatment but no support with housing.
The five-year, five-city project shows that housing first quickly ends homelessness. Almost all the people who were housed also began asking for help with their addiction.
In the most severe cases, the cost of providing housing was roughly half as much as their previous visits to emergency wards and shelters.
For Tebo, it was life-changing. Today, he volunteers at a couple of community centres where most of the people who drop in also rely on local food banks.
'I got lots of help too from strangers, helping me out, so I got to give back.'- Carl Tebo
His own apartment in a low-income tower on Weston Road is itself a one-man shelter and food bank.
Over the two years since leaving the street, he's put three other homeless men up at his apartment, two of whom he's also helped to find housing — not to mention supplying apple crisp, bag lunches and meals to neighbours on a tight budget.
"I can't help it," says Tebo. "I got lots of help too from strangers, helping me out, so I've got to give back."