PHOENIX, Ariz. — Since May, Joshua Smith, a Navy Veteran and substitute school teacher has lived inside a beat-up, broken down 2005 Ford 500.
“My housing situation hasn’t been as good as it could be,” Smith said.
Smith's car died on a street near the Phoenix Country Club. In a life marked by a series of unfortunate events, this one may have turned out to be a lifesaver.
"He’s not a bum, he’s a teacher,” said a woman who did not want to be identified.
The woman was walking her dog one morning when her path and Smith's crossed.
“Everyone is giving all these options, 'Well he can just go to the VA.' How are they going to help? They aren’t going to pay his storage bill out,” she said.
So the woman and a few of her neighbors rounded up a couple hundred dollars to pay for his storage. They also paid Smith's phone bill.
“They got me motivated, too, because I was starting to get worn down by summer heat and getting that feeling the day-to day-trap of homeless, ” Smith said.
In January, the VA participates in the Maricopa County Homelessness Count. More than 700 veterans have been admitted to transitional housing since October 2018. Smith was eligible and admitted several times into the program.
“There are issues where I didn’t finish and had to exit early,” Smith said.
On Tuesday, Smith was back at the VA's Resource and Referral Center asking for another chance to start over.
“Being homeless is not as easy as you think. Once you’re in to it, stuck in it, it’s harder to get out,” Smith said.
But there is at least one person in Smith's corner who believes in him.
“He’ll get a job as a teacher. Hopefully someone will hear this and they’ll see,” the woman who helped Smith said.