Before moving into his CASA apartment, Jimmy spent a good portion of his adult life homeless. He moved around a lot looking for work. When he arrived in Raleigh, he stayed at the South Wilmington Street Center, a homeless shelter for single men. He worked odd jobs in a labor pool, but he was never able to save up enough for a security deposit – so when his time was up in the shelter, Jimmy moved out and stayed on the streets.
For a year and a half, Jimmy slept outside a church in downtown Raleigh. He would sleep under their awning each night, pack up his belongings in the morning, and hide his bag of clothes and blankets in a secret spot in the woods. From there, he’d try to find work, eat at the soup kitchen, or seek help from homeless service agencies. At night, he’d retrieve his belongings and head back to the church, where he slept outside through snow or rain – even a hurricane. “It was like being on an island,” he said. “It’s like I was the only one there. I’d be seeing people pass by, but it was like they were far off.”
“I was worried about having a place, where I’m gonna stay, where I’m gonna sleep at night,” Jimmy remembers. “Being homeless, you never know what’s gonna happen out there. You have to be a light sleeper. Young boys might throw rocks at you, people might be wanting to rob you. You gotta be alert on the streets.”
Finally, a woman who passed him on the street offered a little extra help. She helped him with his application to CASA and eventually a spot opened up for him. He moved into his apartment in December 2018. “I’m some place I don’t have to worry anymore,” he says. “I don’t have to worry about the street anymore, or going to the woods, or where I’m gonna sleep, or putting my clothes in a bag or things like that.”
After years on the street, Jimmy had lost most of his possessions. When he moved in, he had a few clothes, but no furniture besides what his new neighbors were able to loan him – a chair, an old end table, and a few mattresses. A program through the REALTORS® Foundation of Wake County wanted to help. Through a sponsorship from Allen Tate Real Estate and a partnership with The Green Chair Project, Jimmy’s entire apartment is now furnished with a living room set and small dining table, a brand new bed and bedroom furnishings, and all the little things – towels, dishes, throw rugs, and decorations for his walls – that make his place feel like home. “I was out there all those years – but I made it.” he says. “It’s sorta like a dream. My life will be a whole lot different now – I’ll be alright.”