East Texan homeless no more

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email 
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - "This has not been an easy journey for me," said Roy McDonald.

The path Roy walked was a hopeless one, without friends, family, or a home.

"To me, being homeless is not really a choice, because everyone has different reasons for being homeless," he said.

Roy's story of living on the street starts in his childhood with a doctor's diagnosis.

"They told my parents I would be incompetent for the rest of my life," said Ray. "[Can] you believe that?"

Roy dropped out of school after losing most of his family to cancer, falling into the void of homelessness.

"Being homeless is not a bad word but it's something I wouldn't recommend," said Roy. "It's the same thing unless you can pull a rabbit out the hat. You get up [then] it's survival [mode]. Where am I gonna eat at? Where am I gonna bathe at?"

It was a rough life he was determined to change by teaching himself to read and write, and through a chance encounter.

"We have faith in Roy who has been homeless for a very long time," said PATH Charity Director Christina Fulsom, who met Roy three years ago as he stood on a street corner.

She invited him to PATH, seeing an opportunity to help through a low income rental housing program called Texas Community Homes.

"Our goal is to work with them during that period of time, help them remove the barriers, whatever is keeping them living in poverty," explained Christina.

Initially, Roy didn't qualify, but through continued work, PATH made the reality of having a home grow closer.

"We have a relationship with him so that's why it works," said Christina. "We're not just landlords giving someone a house, we're here to help him and we're his friends."

Finally a date was set: October 1, 2009. For the first time in more than 30 years Roy would move into a home he could call his own.

"To really have my own is really like a dream, like a miracle [or] however you want to define it," said Ray.

It is exciting news causing a serially homeless man a serious reality check.

"I got responsibility now, I got rent, I got to keep the place up, I got to learn how, I'm just like a kid," said Ray. "I'm just like a kid starting over again."

Move in day came along with some jitters.

"It's nerve wracking," said Roy. "I didn't get a chance to sleep at all last night."

The man who has rarely had a roof over his head was greeted with a new set of keys in front of the PATH-owned house. Hugs were shared with the ladies who never gave up on him. It was time to cross the threshold of not just a new home but a new life.

It was a quick move. A few boxes held all Roy's possessions, but a nearby neighbor's garage sale provided a few more, helping Roy turn his house into a home. A gracious host, Roy even had time for a tour. From the kitchen to the bedroom and all rooms in between, the shock of the moment began to sink in.

"Is this really my key?" asked Roy.

"That's your key...that's your key," Christina replied.

Each new item found its new place making the move complete. A life changing step for Roy that he says he could never have done alone.

"Even if you are not a God believer but believe in something that is gonna keep you going from day to day because you can't do it on your own and if they look at this and go there is hope," said Roy. "There is hope out there."

And, hope with a little help was enough to keep one man from seeing a bench as his next bed.

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