Keith Jacobs distinctly remembers what it was like to be homeless. “I was eating out of trash cans and living like an animal,” he said. Like many veterans, Keith found himself in this place in life after years of dedicated military service.
Keith had served as an Army Ranger and Special Forces in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The combat veteran came home from the Middle East suffering from PTSD and eventually developed a substance abuse problem, which led to homelessness.
“I started treating my illness with substance abuse,” he said. And his life had changed dramatically because of it— from serving his country and sleeping in the barracks in the Middle East to sleeping under bridges and in abandoned buildings. At the lowest point, he had a near death experience.
But, compelled by his faith in God to make changes, a turning point came when he took several steps toward sobriety, including completing the VA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Program. Through the VA, he moved into a small studio apartment, began to repair his credit, and obtained his driver’s license and a car.
After taking some time to rebuild his life, he wanted to buy a house. “I had been saving money for a down payment and the closing costs. My case worker referred me to Neighborhood Housing Services Oklahoma (NHSOKLA) to take a homebuyer education class on a Saturday,” he said. “I was able to take advantage of the homebuyer education class and down payment assistance. Soon I was the owner of a brand, new home! Neighborhood Housing Services Oklahoma totally helped me—it was one of the best things that happened to me. It was such a gift to have it all completely come together. It feels great to be a homeowner!”
In the meantime, Keith went back to school and earned his Associate’s Degree, followed by a Bachelor’s Degree and now works as certified drug and alcohol counselor. He is close to completing a Master’s Degree in Substance Abuse Studies. “I went from being a drug addict under a bridge in downtown Oklahoma City to getting to work with people. I especially want veterans to know that there is hope and help. They have served their country and now it is time to allow others to serve them.”
“Keith’s story is amazing. He has overcome so much, has achieved even more, and is now serving his community. There are a lot more people in our community, just like Keith, who need affordable and safe housing,” said Roland Chupik, NHSOKLA Executive Director. “That’s why we help people overcome the barriers to becoming (and staying) a homeowner. We do that through homebuyer education, housing counseling, down payment assistance and foreclosure prevention.”