Curse of the First

Veteran Safe Haven

Nov 07, 2016

By Community Support Services
The Veteran Safe Haven opened in August 2014. The facility follows the Housing First model which focuses on providing affordable housing as quickly as possible for a person experiencing homelessness. Supportive services and connections to community-based supports help to address the concerns that may have led to homelessness.
When the program first began, Darrell Hill, Site Supervisor, noted "When Veterans received their checks, they would often revert back to old behaviors including use of substances."  For some, this use had contributed to the veteran being homeless.  Noting this pattern, Darrell introduced an alternative, Curse of the First.
Early each month, Darrell holds a mandatory house meeting with the challenge to the Veterans  to break the curse of the first.  He suggests the Veterans consider paying off outstanding bills, fines, or purchase an item for the home they will move into following the stay at the Veteran's Safe Haven.  Since introducting this concept, Veterans have said, "I broke the curse and got a bed, I broke the curse and saved enough money for a security deposit and first month's rent, and I broke the curse and purchased a computer." 
Cynthia Moore, Supervisor from the Louis Stokes VA Cleveland Medical Center" recently stated, "The Cleveland/Akron area exempliffied excellence by sharing great ideas for the Low Demand Safe Haven Programs. Curse of the First will be known across the country.