Vincent lived in Winston-Salem for most of his adult life. Charles lived in New York City. Vincent worked for Tyson Foods and Sara Lee. Charles drove a truck for 30 years. Then mold in Vincent’s apartment drove him out and sent him to the hospital. Charles’ girlfriend passed away from a seizure and he couldn’t afford to stay in their apartment.
They both ended up in Charlotte with nowhere else to go, and that’s the moment they met. During COVID, Mecklenburg County funded several motels for individuals experiencing homelessness to stay. Vincent met Charles at one of those motels. “We just started talking and getting to know one another and we hit it off,” said Vincent. They discovered that they were both working towards the same goals of saving money and finding housing. Additionally, Vincent shares, “We were both raised by mothers, we have similarities in our upbringing in that way.”
“Another thing we have in common, our birthdays are a day apart: December 13 and 14,” said Charles. Charles said it’s good to have Vincent as a friend, “We have nothing to fight about.”
Both men, Vincent, 57 and Charles, 65, are currently staying at the Howard Levine Men’s Shelter waiting to get into Roof Above’s Link program. The Link program is a shared housing program for elderly or disabled individuals who are on the waitlist for subsidized housing. Tenants pay a flat rate for rent and utilities during their time in shared housing.
Charles has high blood pressure and suffered a heart attack a year ago. He had to undergo open-heart surgery to clear his arteries. While in the hospital, he didn’t have any friends or family nearby to check up on him.
Vincent can tell when Charles isn’t looking well. Recently, Vincent alerted the on-site Nurses Serving Our Neighbors (NSON) nurse advocates because he could tell Charles’ blood pressure was getting high.
Charles brushes it off, “I’m doing much better, no problems.”
“You were in the hospital last month, Charles,” interjects Vincent.
The two friends are excited to start this new chapter together, and Vincent looks forward to taking care of Charles.
“I am eager for peace of mind and a safe place to live,” said Charles.
“I’m looking forward to getting a TV and watching the news and cooking food,” said Vincent.
“I can’t cook,” said Charles. “But I shared that right out the gate when Vincent and I first started talking about living together.”
“That’s okay,” said Vincent. “I’ll be the one doing the cooking.”
Vincent is excited to cook his first meal in his new home: a steak. “It will be steamed crab legs for me,” said Charles. He then breaks out into song, “You’ve got a friend in me…” and both gentlemen laugh.
“You’ve got a friend in me,
You got troubles, I’ve got ’em too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together and see it through
‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me.”