Lease signature returns hope and pride to formerly homeless Veteran


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As Carl Davis added his signature to a simple one-bedroom apartment lease last December, he did so with a renewed sense of pride and accomplishment. Signing the lease meant that his name would be on the mailbox and the contents of the apartment would belong to him. When you’ve been largely homeless for 40 years like Davis, it’s the little things that restore pride and self-worth.

Davis served in the Army from 1973 to 1976. Upon separating from the service, he went back to school for a short time, started working and soon became victim to layoffs. Without steady work, life as Davis knew it took a different turn.

“I slept mostly in shelters,” said Davis. “I usually made it to a shelter just in time to find a bed for the night.”

Under a bridge

Davis spent many years sleeping in various shelters throughout Dallas, in addition to some nights spent sleeping under a bridge. After spending three years at one Dallas shelter, he met members from VA North TexasHomeless Mobile Medical and Mental Health Veterans (HMMM-V) team. Its mission is to find homeless Veterans like Davis and assist them in VA healthcare enrollment, housing screenings and access to other available resources.

“We try and develop a trusting relationship with Veterans who would not ordinally engage the VA,” said Christi Godfrey, VA North Texas social worker. “By bringing the VA to the Veterans in the community, our hope is that he or she will come around, trust the VA, and start work on their housing goals.”

Building Veteran trust is one of the challenges the HMMM-V team faces, despite a well-equipped professional team including a physician assistant, social worker, adjustment counselor and peer support specialist. It took two members, Moneeza Matin, physician assistant, and Dedrea Ollison, readjustment counselor assistant, three years to earn Davis’ trust.

“I am able to connect with a lot of the Veterans I encounter because I am a 24-year Veteran myself,” said Ollison. “They want to talk to someone who understands them and what they have been through.”

From the streets to housing

Davis eventually allowed the team in and let them help. The team set him up with a primary care physician and established care at VA North Texas’ Dallas campus. Securing an apartment lease and dependable healthcare was not the end of Davis’ relationship with the HMMM-V Team. Ollison and Matin still check on him and provide transportation for his medical appointments.

“It gives me great pleasure to see how a Veteran progress from the streets to housing,” said Ollison. “It’s my drive for getting up every morning and coming to this job knowing we are making a difference in someone’s life.”

Davis’ life has radically changed as he no longer must hunt for a bed to rest his head or figure out where and when he would get his next meal. He is living day by day with a roof over his head, food in his kitchen and a renewed sense of hope.

“I take it easy now,” said Davis. “It just feels good to have my own place.”


Jennifer Roy is a public affairs specialist with the VA North Texas Health Care System.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Juice WRLD    

    Wow great job, i love this web

  2. Mark    

    Great work indeed. God bless the U.S. department of Veterans Affairs

  3. Mark    

    wow thanks for returning hope to their life

  4. david artcle    

    Hey, you freedom fighter, man of honor. We pray for you.

  5. Jim Johnson    

    I am so glad Mr. Davis was able to get the necessary help to put little ray of hope back in his life.
    We should do all we can to take care of our Veterans better than we have in the past.

    No Veteran should be Homeless. No Veteran.

    God Bless you Mr. Davis

    CPL. Jim Johnson
    USMC 3rd MAF
    2nd CAG
    Vietnam

  6. Clinton Yarbrough    

    I am homeless with nowhere to go. I have an emotional support dog to keep me company but we don’t have any food or shelter for the winter. Maybe we will die this year asnd be another statistic for the VA to count.

  7. Six9ja    

    Indeed, it feels good to have own place. Davis, I’m so glad you have home

    1. Sheila Wilson    

      Praying you are not! Please go to the VA and speak to a social worker, or your local American Legion. Explain your situation. Or go to your local Salvation Army speak with a chaplain there, I’m sure someone will be able to help.

  8. DJ Jazzy    

    This is a true-life story of Davis, I’m happy that finally, God grant his heart desire

  9. Nancy Maire Miller    

    Peacetime veterans receive Nothing!!! WHY?

    1. Moody Welman    

      This fella, Davis, I woLd think is a peace time veteran, he served from ‘73-76. Combat vets don’t, as a rule, get any more benefits than peacetime vets. If he has a Purple Heart he/she gets a little higher priority, as do those who are 100% disabled.

  10. Michael Ferraro    

    I am not homeless but I am compelled to live in a 10 X 10 cubicle because there are no available Hud or low income assisted apartments available. I am listed on every waiting list available to me for the last three years with no response from anyone. I am even listed on every VA project that is supposed to be under construction with no response from anyone. When is something going to be done to relieve the housing shortage? I’m an 87-year-old Korean veteran and I can’t find a place to live for whatever time I have left here in Southern California where I have some family. It is a shameful predicament.

    1. CL Williamson    

      Hello my bother Vet Michael, I am very much like you. I would love to live in my own place even if it was a 10X10 also. just to be able to call it mine place to live. I was in Air force Nov-79 -May-85. had ups and downs in life, but even though the Va/vash program it still very hard to find a place i can afford. My case worker sends me places to check out, but then i find they do not take Va or Hud/vash vouchers. I am 62 as of yesterday, and sometimes i still see no clear path for myself. But i will not give up. So i ask you not to give up. Us Vets never leave a brother behind, i am not in Southern California but in North Carolina still trying . Is this SHAMEFUL for us Vets, yes, but lets not give in. Their is a way, has to be. Just has to be.

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