Eddy Mahon says the Aloha Inn saved his life.
Each day, thousands of people speed by the run-down old motel on Highway 99 just south of Seattle's Aurora Bridge. It's no longer a motel. Now it's a place where homeless people can stay for up to two years and get help while they try to get back on their feet; there's a long waiting list to get in. Mahon manages the Aloha.
He told his story to KUOW's John Ryan.
Mahon: "My name is Eddy Mahon. I am the housing manager here at the Aloha Inn.
"The place is full. Right now, it's about a three- to four-month wait list.
"I'm actually a product of this program. It saved my life -- it really did. I was on the street; I was dealing; I was using. I got clean. I found out about this place.
"This is actually our brand-new kitchen. Every night, there's dinner as promised every night. They're actually also getting ready for Christmas dinner right now. ...
"I was bouncing all over the streets, mainly up on Capitol Hill. I was staying at friends' houses, dealers' houses. There was a few nights where I couldn't get into a friend's house where I was walking around up on Capitol Hill or downtown all night, or I would go find a bench and just kind of sleep on the bench.
"My mom did always have an open door for me, no matter what, as long as I didn't use in her house."
What substances are we talking about?
Mahon: "Mainly crystal meth. I think the list is a lot shorter of the substances I didn't use. But I'd been dealing for quite a while. I was very lucky I never got caught. I did get arrested for other things. That helped spark me into turning my life around."
Was there some moment, or something that snapped the camel's back?
Mahon: "When I was sitting at a friend's house, higher than a kite, on Christmas Eve, when my mom lived five miles away, I just, I couldn't get myself to go over there.
"I was too high. Too embarrassed, too ashamed of myself, about what my life had turned into and just everything that I'd put my family through. Everything that I'd put me through. Everything that I'd put my friends through.
"Ten, fifteen years of drug use was starting to take a toll, and people weren't wanting to be around me. Family wasn't wanting to be around me.
"That year, I didn't do anything for Christmas. One day, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I walked into an AA meeting and been clean this time ever since.
"This is the one that I actually started in here; 306 was the first room I moved into. It was one of the nicer ones, because it's on the quiet side of the building, as opposed to on the Aurora side of the building.
"When I got in here, I was able to get a job. Then it got to be full circle, where they asked me to come join the team here. I'm eternally grateful for this place and everything that they've done for me."