A veteran tries desperately to escape homelessness after a drastic rent increase forces him to leave his home.
Michael Smith lived in an apartment in DeLand, Florida for two decades before a rise in rents drove him away.
The 75-year-old US Air Force veteran recounted Fox35 The new management of the building almost doubled his rent.
Smith had been paying $600 a month out of his pension, which was taking away about half his income.
The price then steadily rose to $1,000, which Smith couldn’t afford for his retirement, so he had to leave.
“It just leaves you at that point where you feel helpless,” the veteran said.
Smith is currently residing in a motel in DeLand with help from community partners while he and other tenants search for affordable long-term housing.
Despite his efforts, Smith was unsuccessful, and in June he finally sought the help of the American Legion Post 6.
Chaplain David Schlemmer and Service Officer Thomas Jackson immediately went to work to help.
The couple brought the wheelchair-bound veteran’s belongings to the camp.
According to the chaplain and duty officer, veteran homelessness is a major problem, particularly in western Volusia County.
Schlemmer told Fox, “We’re doing everything we can to prevent this guy, Michael Smith, from ever becoming homeless.”
Although they do everything they can to help him, the two admit that there is a lack of resources in the area.
Jackson said, “We don’t have a safety net here for homeless veterans.”
“There is no veteran priority on a waitlist.”
While the two work to find a permanent housing solution for Smith, the motel manager has given the veteran a week’s stay free of charge.
However, due to waiting lists and other hurdles, it may take time to find a solution.
Smith said, “I don’t have the solution right now, the total solution.”
“There’s a lot of hope here, it’s changed my attitude significantly and I’m feeling a lot better.”
Meanwhile, a small hometown in Missouri is fighting homelessness among veterans by getting them off the streets for free and giving them a fresh start.