It all started in 1999, when Brian injured his arm and it led him down the path of homelessness, physical and mental health illness and addiction. Born without a left hand, the strain of years of toil as a landscape maintenance worker on his right arm cost him his job.

This led to a difficult period marked by divorce, chronic pain, mental health issues and substance abuse, which drove him to homelessness in 2004. Despite finding housing again, his ongoing struggles with drug use and mental health issues led to another seven years of homelessness in 2017 – a cycle that seemed impossible to break.

Brian is one of the many unlucky Americans who struggle with the dangerous combination of homelessness and serious mental illness. Now 61, Brian said life becomes shorter, narrower for people who are homeless, as they contend with staying safe on the street, mental and physical ailments and addiction problems.

“Being homeless wears you down. It’s a different world being on the street or living in a car,” Brian said. “When I was homeless, I took drugs to get out of my own mind and body.”

Today, following his recovery and four years of sobriety, Brian’s perspective has shifted dramatically – bolstered by finding stable, permanent housing. In December, Brian moved into a cozy one-bedroom apartment at Mountain View, a beautiful affordable housing community brought to life through a partnership between National CORE and the City of Lake Forest.

Brian’s connection to the community was boosted by a warm welcome from staff members and he was wowed with a fully furnished apartment.

“It was incredible, it’s the best furniture I’ve ever seen,” Brian said. “I am so stoked that everything in the apartment is so nice. I love the couch especially because I love taking naps on it and relaxing.”

Brian is one of Mountain View’s newest residents, which provides 71 high-quality homes to individuals and families earning less than 60% of the area median income.

“Now that I have my new home, I don’t have to worry about being robbed and I’m not so anxious anymore. I feel like my life is beginning again,” he said. “Being housed is a great way to make sure I stay sober. I’ll never go back to the way I was.”

Brian’s journey has been marked by challenges, but it also is a testament to his resilience and determination. He was born in New York City with a congenital amputation that left him without a left hand. Despite these obstacles, at 17, he began a career as a landscape maintenance worker for the City of Laguna Beach, got married and raised two daughters, now ages 32 and 30.

Above all, Brian treasures the opportunity to rebuild relationships with his daughters and create new memories with his grandchildren. He emphasized the positive impact of living at Mountain View, not only for himself but also for his family.

“Mountain View is a great family environment,” Brian said. “Living here is a load off their mind because they no longer have to track me down if they want to find me. I am reachable because I can charge my phone and I’m off drugs. They can come over and visit and see how well I’m doing.”