David, 58, was a resident of The Bridge, Dallas’ 24-hour, downtown homeless facility for 17 months, until he moved into his own studio apartment, thanks to you – the members of Congregation Shearith Israel.
David was born in Oak Cliff. His father worked at the local box factory for thirty-eight years. His mother, a homemaker, was the only true constant in David’s life, supporting him with unconditional love
David graduated from Kimball High School in 1978. With no money for college or technical school, he began a lifetime of short-lived, dead-end jobs that, combined with unsuccessful personal relationships, found him returning to his parents’ house again and again throughout his adult years.
In December 2011, David’s life was shattered when his parents were in a car accident that killed his mother and left his father physically and cognitively injured. David became his father’s full-time caregiver. The two men subsisted on David’s father’s pension of $600 per month.
In November 2013 the police knocked on the door and arrested David for failing to appear in court for a child support case for his 15-year-son. David says he told the police that his father was alone and disabled and would not survive without someone to care for him. With no way to contact his father, since there was no landline at home, and no phone numbers memorized for his sister or other relatives, David was unable to help his father, or himself. David sat in jail for 110 days. No one visited him during that time. David says, upon his release, he found a cousin had moved his father out of their home and put the house on the market. Unable to hire a lawyer, David lost all legal rights to the home he grew up in. His father died within a year, in a nursing home. David lived temporarily with a neighbor, sleeping on his couch, then took a bus to The Bridge, where he has lived ever since.
David’s best friend is his Bridge caseworker, Paige Furst. David has learned from her that the path to self-sufficiency is “to get a job and keep it.” David has followed this advice. After washing dishes at a bar in Deep Ellum, David moved to his current janitorial job at El Centro College in downtown Dallas. He earns $9 an hour, some of which is automatically deducted from his paycheck to fulfill his court-ordered child-support obligation to his son Jordan, now 20.
Until now, David had little chance of making it on his own: his low hourly wage and high child support payments made saving money nearly impossible; an apartment – with utility bills, a security deposit, and furnishings to buy – was a remote dream. When the synagogue offered to help, David called it “a secret miracle.”
Congregant Michael Ochstein stepped forward as the first part of that miracle, agreeing to rent a $705-a-month studio apartment to David with no security deposit, credit history, or rent history required. Additionally, Michael made a generous contribution to The Ladder Project of $5,000. Although David’s name is on the lease, Shearith has agreed to supplement David’s income enough to cover his rent, utility bills, and public transportation until he can pay for all of it himself. David will attend a financial management class every Saturday morning in October and share his paystubs and expense receipts with the synagogue.
Shearith Israel clergy, staff and congregants share