"Giving everyone a chance"

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Kevin Michels lived on the street for five years. Then he got a flat through the foundation Jugend- an Drogenhëllef. Since then, the 29-year-old's situation has improved. His story shows: “Housing First” works. However, recognition of the concept and the tight housing market remain hurdles.

It all started when Kevin Michels was sent to a youth institution by court order at the age of 14. He does not stay there for long. Again and again, he runs away. At some point over the years, he begins to use drugs. An episode in prison follows. Kevin Michels doesn't say much about it. He only says that he “fucked up” in connection with his drug use. He can no longer return to his parents. They don't want to take him in. In that situation “there is no other choice but the street”, says Kevin Michels soberly.

With his sleeping bag, he spends the nights on the street for years, sometimes in a parking garage. He takes heroin and cocaine, partly out of boredom, partly to escape his own suffering. At least temporarily.

Because the search for intoxication has its price. Addiction creates its own problems. To be able to finance the next dose, he walks the streets of the capital every day begging. “It's a vicious circle. You wake up in the morning and it still starts all over again”, the 29-year-old sums up his everyday life in the scene.

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A sense of balance