Clovis Ahmed

After years sleeping in parks, Clovis Ahmed now calls The Lee home.

  • Mr. Ahmed proudly displays to the keys to his studio apartment at The Lee in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Clovis Ahmed was a full-time student when he unexpectedly lost his mother. Unable to keep up with rent payments, he soon found himself on the streets. For the next five years, he slept outside in various parks in Manhattan, enduring violence and suffering until he reached out for help from Breaking Ground.

“It’s a tough life out there. I’ve been shot, I’ve been stabbed. Being in the streets is no joke. I lived in cardboard boxes, sleeping with rats all around. I had nowhere to go.
There were a whole bunch of us living in the park, and a lot of bad stuff going on. It was dangerous. And then, the Breaking Ground people were coming by, and my friend was like, those people can help you if you need it. Well, I did need it. I was tired of being on the streets. I was dying out there.

If you would have seen me a couple of years ago, you would hardly recognize me. I’m a whole different person. I was so skinny; I was hardly eating. Now I’m healthy. I’m clean. I don’t drink anymore. I’ve been clean for two years. I’m a brand new person - mentally, physically, and spiritually.

There’s nothing like having your own apartment: you have hot water, you have privacy. I can relax. I’m so happy. I’m proud of my place. I work hard to keep it clean. I got that from my mom. She was a nurse and she taught me all about hard work. I was working for a while and now I’m looking for a job again. If I was to tell somebody I used to be homeless, they wouldn’t believe it.

If you want to know about whether Breaking Ground works, just look at the results. They change people’s lives. You look around here, at The Lee where I live, you see [formerly] homeless people using the computers, using the exercise machines. We pay our rent on time. I don’t like paying bills, but I do it and I’m proud to do it.

I’m trying to save money. I would love to own my own place one day, but you have to crawl before you can walk. I am so grateful to live here. I mean, I’m not drinking. I’m not homeless. I’m successful. Breaking Ground helped me with all of that.”