From homeless to coming home


Thursday, October 2nd 2008, 5:27 pm
By: News 9


By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The homeless in Oklahoma City are going from living on the street, to owning their own home. They are able to make the transition with the help of the Pershing Center.

Mike and Sharon Bottoms love to work in their yard, but they've never had a yard before to work in until now. Four months ago, the couple moved into their first real home.

"We were so eager to move in, we moved in and slept on the floor, even before they got through in here," Mike Bottoms said.

Mike and Sharon used to be homeless in North Carolina and addicted to drugs.

"We smoked marijuana and we smoked crack," Mike Bottoms said. "I've done, before I met her, about anything there was to do."

One day they decided they wanted a fresh start and they landed in the care of Larry Bross at the Pershing Center in Oklahoma City. It was the perfect place to start anew.

"I'd probably be dead to be honest with you. Why? Because, we'd probably still be getting high," Sharon Bottoms said.

The couple got clean, and worked and lived at Pershing.

The Bottoms currently rent a duplex in the neighborhood once known as Mulligan Flats, but is now called West Lawn Garden. In the area, the Pershing Center has constructed 24 duplexes as rentals and 5 homes for lease purchases

"It's a two year program. You can only stay here for two years, and you have to be homeless to get here. We're 92% employed. It's a back to work program," City Care Executive Director Larry Bross said.

The Pershing Center's efforts are making a difference.

"If you would have asked me this four years ago, never would have believed it," Mike Bottoms said. "I would have said ‘No, you're just dreaming.' We never thought we would have anything like this."

The Pershing Center is part of City Care, an organization that feeds Oklahoma City's homeless, tutors Oklahoma City Public school students in reading and provides transitional housing, permanent housing and various programs for people on the street.