Homeless man gets an apartment (video)
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As an unexpected breeze sliced through the sweltering heat in Victoria one recent Thursday afternoon, the lone white curtain of the place David Davis had called home for the past two months waved gently outward from a glass-less window frame.
The homey curtain was a stark contrast to the rest of the dilapidated, rat-infested shell of a cottage on Murray Street that was nearly smothered by tall trees and overgrown grass.
"It was a bed, and I was comfortable," Davis said about the framed mattress located in the one part of the house where the roof had not caved in completely. "I was thankful for it."
That night would be Davis' last time to sleep at the shed.
The next morning, he would move into his very own apartment, thanks to the help of two employees of Family Endeavors - a nonprofit agency that assists veterans who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness - who went above and beyond the call of duty.
"It could be my grandfather," said Roslyn Murphy, a mentor for Family Endeavors. "I wouldn't want my grandfather or anyone else living in those conditions."
After receiving a call in late May from the Veteran's Association about a homeless man who had found shelter in deplorable conditions, Murphy along with her co-worker Vincent Cross, a case manager for the agency, sprung into action, seeing what they could do to help.
"He's a vet. I'm a vet," said Cross. "We have to look out for each other."
The pair met with Davis, 76, at the Victoria Senior Citizens Center and listened to his life story, deciding what to do afterward.
A native of Medford, Ore., Davis served in the U.S. Marines for three years in his mid-20s before being discharged.
Because of reasons he declined to discuss, Davis, who was not good at recalling dates, made his way to the Lone Star state, first to Houston, then to Rockport where he opened an antique store.
While he dealt in a little bit of everything, Davis said he had a special affinity for selling art and entertainment items.
"I was better at ping pong and foosball than any of the teenagers," Davis said about playing the games in his store in between customers.
Davis went on to marry and divorce twice, resulting in the birth of four children - two boys and two girls all named after people in the Bible.
Life began to take a downward spiral when he was convicted in the 1990s on a drug charge and was sent to jail for about two years.
Following his release, Davis lost contact with his family and wound up broke and homeless.
He made his way to Victoria in 2009, where he bounced between a few places.
In May, he was evicted from his last real home because of what he described as personality differences between him and the landlord.
Stranded with no car or place to go, Davis was allowed by a neighbor who lived across the street to move into the unoccupied cottage on the back of her land until he could get back on his feet.
Things were rough in the cottage.
The house was filled with rubble and discarded trash, and there was no electricity or running water.
Standing near the cottage entrance, the petite, sun-kissed man described how he would place gallon jugs of water in the sun for hours just to get some warm water for bathing.
Despite his downtrodden living situation, Davis kept a positive outlook, spending his days exercising and partaking in his daily vices of a 65-cent cup of coffee in the morning and Double Diamond cigarettes.
When asked whether he reached out to his family or any other friends for housing help, Davis replied, "Their doors weren't open."
Murphy said she and Cross went through at least three places that had originally agreed to rent to Davis, but each reneged on their agreements because they found other renters offering to pay more money than Davis.
They finally found a landlord who said yes two weeks ago.
"I was just looking for a place to be. You don't always have a place to be," said Davis, who will pay for his new place using his Social Security check and VA benefits. "You think you do, but you don't."
Others in the community including Dad's RV Park, The Salvation Army and the Victoria Veteran's Administration offered to donate everything Davis would need to begin his new life in his new apartment.
"I got a toothbrush, and I don't even have a tooth," laughed Davis.
Now that he has a nice place of his own, Davis said he hopes to meet some new lady friends as well as reconnect with his family and invite them over, particularly his grandchildren who he wants to get to know better.
He also plans to take up cooking again, beginning with his favorite meal - pork chops and beans.
He had this message for all those involved in helping to get him situated.
"God has opened the door for me and my friends to be able to help me out. God bless each one of you."