by Danny Cullum
I moved into my current house in 2020. My so-called friends didn’t think I would stay because I had just stopped doing cocaine and had been homeless eight long years prior. This house I love is my shelter and has become my home away from heaven. I have surrounded myself with positive things. My friends have gone, and I never returned to the streets to abuse drugs.
I started using cocaine in 2009 when it was introduced to me by a partner that I thought was really loving me in all the right ways. I was hooked the first time I tried it. It was all downhill from there. My partner and I spent lots of money on cocaine and let important bills go unpaid. My relationship with that partner ended in 2010!
Afterwards, I came back to Alabama, stayed with friends, and couldn’t stop thinking about cocaine and my ex-partner. Afterwards, I moved in with my father, but I couldn’t stay clean, so I got my own apartment. I couldn’t stop thinking about cocaine so much that I ended up giving up all my belongings to get some.
I ended up moving back to northwest Alabama and stayed at my dad’s cabin in the woods, but crack cocaine was still on my mind. I walked all the way to Birmingham from my father’s cabin to find some cocaine and it took me a total of five days. No one gave me a ride.
I finally got to the north side of Birmingham, called a friend, got me some crack cocaine. I had no shelter, water, or food, and I picked up cigarette butts to smoke. I was homeless for three years in Birmingham. Finally got on a bus and went to Orlando, Florida (my birthplace) to see if I could stay clean, but I couldn’t do it. I ended up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I tried to get help but I couldn’t get off the streets and stop using drugs. Finally, my dad got me a Greyhound bus ticket. He told me, “Son, get on a bus and come back to Alabama,” and I did that in 2015. I stayed with him again in the cabin in the woods. At this point, I had been coping with full blown AIDS for many years, not taking my meds correctly, and getting treatment whenever I thought I needed it. I ended up losing my apartment and spent a week in a hotel smoking crack cocaine.
It was in 2016 when I got a ride from a friend to Thrive Alabama in Huntsville. I spoke to Brittany, the housing manager at the time. She tested me for drugs, and I tested positive for cocaine. She was firm and stood her ground and told me as long as I do drugs, they couldn’t help me. My dad came and got me back to the cabin in the woods. I prayed long and hard and shed many tears. Spoke with Jesus and asked for help to quit doing crack. I finally lost the desire, and I stopped doing crack.
I found a house only five miles from my dad’s cabin. The housing authority and Thrive Alabama helped me get into housing, and I am still here to this day, surrounded by beautiful flowers. I have been clean off crack for seven years. Thanks be to the father God, I am blessed to have shelter, water, and food. The rest are wants but I have them, too. I know that the housing manager said a prayer for me. It was answered, and I am now healthy HIV positive now for 24 years.
Mr. Cullum’s housing manager also had a few words to share:
I met Mr. Danny Cullum when working at a local Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) as a Housing Case Manager. Danny was literally homeless at the time and seeking housing. However, he was actively using cocaine. Danny was informed of all programs that the agency provided to include but not limit Behavioral Health as well as Substance Abuse. There came a point where Danny decided to pivot; he kept one foot on the ground and was able to regain control of this life. Danny was intentional about his environment and who he allowed to be in his presence. Danny has now been permanently housed using TBRA funds for two years and 11 months! Danny takes great pride in his beautiful home. Danny’s faith, resilience, and discipline are commendable.