“I live in a palace now.”
“Where did you live before?”
“Until last week, the bushes behind Harrah’s Casino…”
David is a sweet and kind gentleman who has been going to weekly church service at St. Mark’s Methodist Church since coming to New Orleans almost two decades ago. David was recently housed with the Rapid Rehousing for Chronically Homeless Individuals Project, a housing program administered
by Depaul USA with assistance from the Harry Tompson Center. In August, HTC Program Director Kip Barard first noticed David as someone who frequently visited the Rebuild Center and who might be eligible for “housing.” In fact, we learned that David had been coming to the Harry Tompson Center since before it was called that (next door to Immaculate Conception Church) though he didn’t become truly homeless until about 2 years ago. Kip began the navigation process to move him off the streets and into housing. The hand-off was made in early November when Depaul USA Case Manager Jonathan Goodman of Depaul USA conducted a housing search process resulting in comfy 1-BR apartment which David now calls “his palace.”
David, a Marine Corp Veteran who fought in the Vietnam War, came to New Orleans for work 18 years ago. He readily admits his own part in the circumstances that led him to becoming homeless. “I wasn’t saving, I was just spending.” However, David always made sure to pay child support to his ex-wife, citing his responsibility and love for his children. “Children are all that you really have in this world- you could die today, and they will be what you leave behind, so why not give them everything you can?”
His failing health led to an extensive stay at an area hospital and then a longer stay at a nursing home to recover. The nursing home decided he had “recovered” after 8 months, gave him “a full bill of health” and released him to the street, without a penny to his name. The entirety of David’s Social Security checks had gone to the nursing home to cover his expenses. All his belongings at his previous apartment where he had been living before going into the hospital had been discarded. He had no savings, no belongings and nowhere to turn. For two long years, he lived on the streets, scraping by – receiving food and survival services at the Rebuild Center and other places. The recent help he received from HTC and Depaul USA helped him to leave the streets (and bushes) behind forever.
Now, David is happy to be warm and housed. Depaul USA provided the bed and other furniture and household supplies for David. They will maintain continued contact with him to ensure that he remains housed and healthy. David is an avid reader, and was proud to say that he’s already started his own “library” in his new home. Even though he’s almost 70, he still has a dream to some day buy and operate his own shrimping boat, the water being his place of tranquility.
His journey from the bushes to his palace hasn’t been easy, but David is ready to take charge of his new start.
Want to read more stories of courage from HTC guests? Click here to go to the archive.