When you meet Marvin, you’ll be struck by his towering height, but it’s his big heart that truly stands out. Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Marvin embraced his love for music and construction, and his strong work ethic was evident even from a young age. However, the wear and tear on his body eventually led him to rely on disability, marking a significant change in his life.
Marvin’s story highlights how easily unaffordable rent increases can lead to homelessness, and the importance of the help Opportunity House provides for individuals seeking stability and affordable housing solutions.
Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Marvin lived with his mother and his two older sisters. In school, he liked math, gym, and woodshop. His father lived in Detroit, and he saw him on the holidays.
Going to church was an important part of his upbringing. Marvin attended services, but like many kids, he didn’t find any value in attending.
He and his mother decided to try a church down the street and Marvin’s world changed. “They were singing and shouting. They had guitars, and drums. I got involved right away,” noted Marvin. He meticulously watched the drummer and eventually learned to play drums. The pastor who was also a licensed contractor, was quick to notice Marvin’s excitement and invited him to be part of his construction crew. At just 13 years old, Marvin jumped at the opportunity to gain experience and earn some cash. During the day, he attended school and worked with the crew during the evenings and weekends. “I learned all kinds of skills—painting, construction, and roofing. I also learned how to work hard,” noted Marvin.
Being a young man on the crew, Marvin wanted to prove himself. He lifted things that others wouldn’t and turned his body into a workhorse to impress those around him.
The wear and tear on his body took its toll and eventually Marvin was no longer able to work. He needed to go on disability. “I’m not used to sitting around and doing nothing. This was a tremendous change for me,” he said.
A Move to Reading, PA
Eventually, Marvin came to Reading, Pennsylvania to help a friend paint her home. He returned a second time to help another friend and decided to make Reading his home.
He got his first apartment in Reading and welcomed a roommate, Tammy. This new relationship was beneficial for both of them. Marvin needed help with the rent and Tammy needed a place to stay when her family no longer welcomed her. As a survivor of a severe automobile accident, Tammy has long-lasting damage and requires a tracheostomy to breathe.
From Housed to Homeless to Getting Help
After four years of being good tenants, Tammy and Marvin’s landlord raised the rent. It was far beyond what they could afford. They began looking for another place to live. “We couldn’t find an affordable apartment,” noted Marvin. For a brief time, they stayed in a hotel but soon the money they had saved was gone. With nowhere to turn and homeless, Tammy and Marvin came to Opportunity House.
“It’s my first time being homeless. I never expected it. I couldn’t believe that we couldn’t find an affordable apartment,” he said. While at the shelter, Marvin is looking for an apartment, saving his money to meet the ever-increasing cost of security deposits and improving his credit score, too. “I know this is not the place for me and I’m doing everything I can to move on,” he added. “I’m not sure what the future will bring but I am staying positive and staying focused on my goal.”
The Impact of Rising Housing Costs on Homelessness
The story of Marvin and Tammy highlights a pressing issue faced by many individuals today: the increasing cost of housing that can quickly lead to homelessness. As rent prices soar beyond the means of low-income individuals, finding stable and affordable housing becomes an insurmountable challenge for countless families and individuals.
Opportunity House: A Lifeline for the Homeless
Thankfully, Opportunity House is able to step in to bridge the gap for those facing homelessness. Opportunity House offers a safe and supportive environment, providing vital resources, counseling, and assistance to help individuals like Marvin and Tammy get back on their feet and regain their independence.