David had been experiencing homelessness since 2007 when the company he worked for as a framer went out of business. He then found employment as a day laborer, but the work did not last, and he did not earn enough to secure a place of his own. With no place to go, David set up camp in the woods.

Asked about his time living outdoors, David said that he lived in the in the Oakridge/ Winegard area and vividly described the effects of the heat and the cold as well as the dangers inherent to homelessness. He described times when the grass fires threatened the camps, and when criminal activity in the camps brought police attention and he had to move away to escape the threat of violence.

He moved his camp across the street from the YMCA, purchased a membership and was able to maintain his personal hygiene and exercise every day. The YMCA was also an integral component of maintaining his social life. Disabled due to complications from a broken femur, the bone was poorly reset, which caused other medical issues.

Through The Welcome Home Project, a community initiative that sought to match 129 homeworthy individuals in Central Florida with permanent homes, David found housing. On January 19, 2018, David and his dog Puppy Love, moved into his own place. He described it as coming home and loves the fact that there is green space and a little patio area that belongs to his unit. He especially loves the kitchen and says that he enjoys cooking. David feels grateful that his dog can now be comfortable and said that finally they both can relax and enjoy their new home.

“He especially loves the kitchen and says that he enjoys cooking.”

-David on how it feels to live in his own apartment