GREENSBORO, NC – “This is home.” Words most of us are thankful to say every day. But, for Army Veteran David Roundtree and his fiancée, Cynthia Ellerby, those are words they weren’t able to say… until now.
The couple, both in their 60s, were evicted from their previous home they were renting. Roundtree is recovering from surgery due to pancreatic cancer, but receives some benefits. Ellerby works for a low-income nursing home, but said she makes less than $1,000 a month. The two were unable to pay their rent, and found themselves homeless.
“We didn’t know what we was going do,” said Ellerby. “I didn’t want to bother my family, because my family has helped before, so I felt like I didn’t want to go to them because this was between me and David.”
Roundtree added, “We walked around for a while. We walked around for a while, trying to figure out what to do.”
Their things were placed in storage, and the two found a hotel. But soon, money ran out, and the couple closed their eyes for a few hours of nervous, broken sleep, in front of Greensboro’s Central Library.
“We thought we had everything under control and we didn’t,” Ellerby said. “It happened, we ended up on the streets, and we slept on the streets.”
A police officer came by, but, according to Roundtree, by the Grace of God, the officer didn’t ticket them for trespassing.
Roundtree said, “I thank him for him because we could’ve ended up in jail and he didn’t, he just told us to leave.”
It’s hard to imagine what anyone would do when faced with this circumstance. However, the truth is many people face them every day. Just in Greensboro, over 800 people are homeless. This number doesn’t include people living in shelters or sleeping in homeless camps.
Luckily, Roundtree and Ellerby found themselves at Interactive Resource Center, an organization providing assistance to anyone experiencing homelessness.
Michelle Kennedy, Executive Director said, “Situations like this could happen multiple times on a day like this for us or they could be more spread out.”
Kennedy, realizing the couple faced another night on the streets, worked quickly with a local apartment complex to get the two into a home.
“I think about them, they are close to the age of my parents and they were sleeping on out the street in front of the library,” Kennedy explained.
Although it normally can take one to three days for applications to go through, the apartment complex managed to give the couple the keys in less than 12 hours.
“Some things are just basic human rights and housing is one of them,” said Kennedy. “I know that tonight when they go to bed, they’re inside somewhere.”
Thus, with a key in hand, Roundtree opened the door to his and his love’s new home.
“It’ll be good to stay in somewhere for a change. Well, it’s our first time. The cobwebs are still up, but, this is home,” he said, turning the key to the lock.
Once inside, the couple walked around, and Roundtree got emotional, tearing up and knocking his walking cane on the floor as he thanked god for the opportunity.
“We can move around in here. We can cook on the stove,” said Ellerby. “If we want to have family members in here. Anything, we can do that.”
IRC helped the couple moved their furniture out of storage and into the home. The organization paid the couple’s first month’s rent and enrolled the two into their GED program. Kennedy also managed to help Roundtree get in contact with the local Veteran’s Affairs.
To learn more about IRC, visit http://gsodaycenter.org