On the fourth of July last year, Wayne was just a few weeks away from moving into his CASA apartment. Wayne is an Army veteran, who joined the military at eighteen because his family didn’t have the money to send him to college. He wanted to go to school, but he is grateful for his time in the military saying, “I’m glad I got the opportunity to serve.” After his service, Wayne worked at a GE plant until it closed. Forced to try something new, Wayne found work at a country club, where he met an elderly member who needed work done around her home. He started cleaning her house and, when her husband became ill, he helped her care for him and quickly earned a reputation as someone who could provide quality housekeeping and caregiving services. “I had so many requests from people who wanted me to work for them,” he remembers. “It was kind of overwhelming.”
As Wayne’s three kids graduated from high school and moved away for college or work, Wayne started wondering about his future in Baltimore. “Everything was going well,” he said, “But then I sort of fell on a little bit of depression. My kids had grown up and moved on and everything, and I found myself in an empty house.” The increased rents in his neighborhood didn’t help, and neither did the rising crime rate. He looked for a smaller and more affordable home somewhere safer, but he discovered that housing costs around the city were far out of his reach. “You couldn’t find any affordable houses there,” he said. “The housing system up there was overrun, just packed.” Eventually, Wayne’s oldest daughter – now a mother of two – suggested he move to North Carolina to be closer to his grandchildren.
He made the move, staying with his daughter in Raleigh while he looked for his own place. “I was kinda here with zero,” he says. Wayne was awarded a housing voucher because of his veteran status; but he didn’t have a steady income to show he could pay utilities, so he still couldn’t find a landlord who would rent to him. He put in an application with CASA and waited. When he heard he could move into an apartment reserved especially for veterans in Durham, he was ready.
When Wayne moved in last year, he said, “I’m just staring over from scratch in a new state and a new city, and I’m happy. I’m looking forward to it.” He liked Durham right away, especially because of all the trees – a big difference from his row house in Baltimore. “I have oxygen!” he laughed. The first night in his apartment, he thought, “It’s beautiful. What I like about my apartment is that it’s new, it’s pretty. And it’s enough space for me.”
Since moving in, Wayne has gotten to know his neighbors – all of whom are veterans who have faced homelessness and live with a disability. He has volunteered to speak to visitors to the apartments who come to learn more about CASA. And, a few weeks ago, he joined the NC REALTORS© on their day of Giving Back to shovel mulch and help beautify his property. He goes to Raleigh every weekend to look after his grandchildren while their mom is at work. He’s waiting on a surgery he needs at the VA and working on his job skills and resume so he can get to work as soon as the doctor clears him. The only thing he’s not sure he really understands is the basketball rivalry in the Triangle. “I play golf,” he laughs.
Wayne is a great neighbor and a wonderful tenant. Happy Welcome Home Anniversary, Wayne!