Former homeless man claims agency saved him from a slow death on streets

Roger Alter said he would have been gone — as in dead.

A few years ago, he took baths in creeks and told the time of day by looking at the sun, the former homeless man told a stunned Lycoming Reentry Coalition audience Monday. He shared with them his ordeal of living on the land and finding refuge through Lycoming Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities.

“If it hadn’t been for them, I would have been dead, my doctor said,” Alter said at the meeting of agency providers.

Alter has a criminal background, and was denied public housing. However, through assistance from people such as Ginny Noble and Rae Weber, of the agency, an appeal was made. The appeal included letters from his probation officer and individuals at Crossroads Counseling, a local rehabilitation center.

Finally, his days of bathing in cold creeks were over.

These days, Alter has received a voucher to get into public housing and is turning his life around after a driving under the influence charge in 2015.

Through grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, individuals such as Alter can receive rental assistance and secure housing for up to three years, Noble said.

During that time, Alter, who is skilled in printing, may be able to find a job, learn from his mistakes and reenter society with a new hope, according to Noble.

Alter is one of several examples of how agencies assist the homeless and the working poor in Lycoming County, the coalition reported.