Looking for a comeback
“My life went the way of the Mariners. Back in 2001, I had the best job of my life and was loving life.”
Dean is a huge baseball fan, a veteran, and a Northwest native, born in Tacoma and raised in Puyallup. At 21 years of age, he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Spain. After completing his service, he held several jobs, including one season of king crab fishing in Alaska. For many years he worked for the State of Washington at different schools as an attendant counselor for developmentally disabled children, and then started to do some security and delivery driver work.
In 2001, he had a delivery job he really enjoyed. He also had an unpaid ticket for no insurance that he had forgotten about. He was pulled over, and quickly found that he was driving on a suspended license. He rushed to fix it, but was pulled over again. The system said he still had a suspended license so he was arrested and spent a week in jail. Dean lost his job.
“I got fired, the Mariners crashed, and then 9/11 happened. The whole world caved in,” Dean shared. “A week in jail was long enough to lose everything I had.”
With no job, Dean soon found himself homeless. He lived in a tent, first in wooded areas in South King County, then he moved to Tent City in Seattle. In Tent City, he learned things, like how to tarp his tent to keep it dry, from those who had been doing it a lot longer. He finally felt a little bit a part of a community. He had also adopted two cats, Tiger and Jax, to keep him company.
After seven years of tent living, Dean was finally able to get into housing. It took some adjusting, “I was worried about how my cats would feel about being stuck indoors. They had freedom for so long, I wasn’t sure if they’d like the apartment. But they did!”
Four years later, Dean again found himself homeless when a fire displaced him from his apartment. He moved in with his son for a few months, and then couch-surfed for another couple of months, until he moved into MSC’s William J. Wood Veterans House in December. Tiger and Jax are also there.
“This has been beyond awesome. It was great to have a place, but to find out how good it is, it is beyond expectations,” says Dean. “When people ask how I’m doing, now I say better than most!” Dean is able to use MSC’s food bank and has started looking for a job.
“The homeless thing sucks. I haven’t met one person here [at William J Wood Veterans House] that isn’t happy with their new situation. With this wonderful housing, maybe the Mariners could come back again,” Dean says with a smile.