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David (tenant) opening his door with a smile

David Stands On His Own Two Feet!

David woke up on the floor. But it was only because the temporary air mattress his caregiver had lent him had sprung a leak during his first night in his new home. David didn’t want to wait for his bed to arrive before he moved in. As soon as Homes First had his place ready, he was in the door. 

“I was surprised that I was on the floor in the morning, but I slept well,” David says with a laugh. Sleeping on the floor hasn’t always been such a funny story for David.

It is clear when David welcomes you at his door that he loves his Homes First home and it makes him happy.

By age three, David could not talk and could only crawl along the floor. Born with disabilities that impaired his ability to walk and to hear, Seattle doctors told his parents he would probably not live much longer. That was in the 60s. David says that his “body just kept on going.”

His family moved to California, where with the help of his parents, hearing aids, and some good doctors, David eventually learned to speak and walk.
David credits his Dad with teaching him to walk. “He would help me up on my feet,” David explains while holding out his hands as if helping a toddler.

As an adult, David was able to work a job as a janitor both in a veterinarian’s office through a non-profit agency, and eventually, when he moved back to Washington, at the UW Campus in Tacoma.
But he has had on again and off again living situations, some good, some okay, some bad.

Most recently, when he couldn’t bear living in a home any longer where he paid $400 for just two rooms, he moved into a fifth-wheel travel trailer parked in Rainier with his brother and his girlfriend.
David was again on the floor, but this time it was in a small cramped space shared with a piece of old furniture in the tiny camper’s living room.

“It was hard for me to get up from the floor in the morning because of my back,” David says. “Each day I would try to clean, do the dishes and fix the place up, but it wasn’t how I wanted to live.”

He knew he had to find a way out. David and his caregiver, Kathy from Catholic Community Services, spent a lot of time trying to find a new home for David.

“There was just nothing he could afford on his limited income from Social Security Disability,” says Kathy. “Most of the apartments we looked at required two times the rent just to get in. Then we walked into Homes First!”

The Homes First home helped David get on his feet again. David’s gratefulness for his new home is reflected in his care for his flower beds.

Homes First Cheif Executive Officer Trudy Soucoup and Property and Project Manager, Mike Fouts, explained to David and Kathy there was a one-bedroom apartment available but there were applicants ahead of David.

David kept checking back. And checking back.
“Finally, Mike called and it was good news,” smiled David. “I got my place. I said, when can I move in? Can I move in now?”

Mike Fouts recalls the sheer joy in David’s response. “He wanted and needed that place so much, and his persistence won out. Now, we have another great tenant.”

The staff and volunteers worked hard to get the apartment ready for him with lovely new laminate floors and other upgrades, cleaning, and repairs. David couldn’t have a better landlord.

“It’s affordable living that allows him to be so much more independent,” says Kathy. “David can walk to the bank, the store, or the bus stop nearby, and he has even taken the bus to the mall once. Homes First helps people live their dreams of having what other people have.”

Homes First residents often share their joy of having a good home. David says it simply, “When I came into this house, I felt like I was in a whole new world. This is my home, and I will never sleep on the floor again.”

His thankfulness is clearly expressed in his care of the place. It is immaculate, cozy and comfortable. David has weeded flower beds and replanted gardens and proudly shows them off. He takes great pride in all he has accomplished since he has been there.

“Before my Mom died in 2006, I told her not to worry,” David says proudly. “I told her I would be okay and live my life the best I know how and stand on my own two feet.”

Clearly, Homes First has helped David keep his promise.

Thanks to Thurston Talk for publishing this inspirational story and to Barb Lally of Lally Communications for writing it!

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