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Dustin & his dog are living in a storage shed

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Being homeless:
The lady I was renting a room from lost her house in May, and all of us living there had to move out, so for the last two months, I've been homeless and living in a storage shed with my rescued shelter dog, Roger.

I have a cot to sleep on while he has his big dog bed, even though he still squeezes onto the cot with me every chance he gets!

October will be the start of my 3rd month in the shed, and I am nervous about it due to the incoming cold weather. The temperature has dropped to 49 degrees the last three nights, and I know it will only get colder within the coming days and weeks.

I never imagined being homeless was something I'd have to face in my lifetime, but even with preparation and planning, it still only took a week to happen to me. What makes it even scarier is that it can happen so suddenly and through no fault of your own.

It's not been the easiest experience, but it won't be the one that defeats me, either. If anything, being homeless has reminded me just how strong and resilient I can be when it comes down to it.

Moving forward, I will be able to take everything I've learned from this and turn it into a positive experience one way or the other!

What prompted my Georgia visit:
My mom had been struggling with several health issues over the last 15 + years; heart issues, COPD, and emphysema. In 2021 she started home hospice as her doctors determined there was little more they could do for her other than keep her happy and comfortable at home as her health continued to decline.

At the same time, I knew my lease was ending in March of 2022, so I took the timing as an opportunity to come up here to spend time with my mom and family before she passed.

I flew up to Georgia in March and started renting a basement room from a high school friend right around the corner from where my mom was, so I visited her regularly.

My original plan:
I planned to find a job and save up for another vehicle. My ideal goal was to save up and buy a used box truck or camper and drive back to Orlando, but I've struggled to find a job the entire time I've been here. Even with the jobs, I applied to, I wasn't getting callbacks or interviews, so I kept picking up art commissions on the side and would flip items the neighbors put out on their curb.

Past the slow job search, everything was going smoothly. I even rescued Roger from the local shelter.

Where it went wrong and how I became homeless:
One afternoon in Mid-May, the friend I was renting from messaged me and told me she was losing her house and we all had seven days to move out. I was still recovering financially from everything involved with my move from Orlando to Georgia and was unprepared for the expenses of moving again, especially in a week.

Luckily, another friend offered to let me stay in her living room on such short notice. She wasn't too keen on me having a dog, but she knew my situation was an urgent circumstance, so she did her best to adapt.

By May 26th, I was celebrating my 39th birthday sleeping on a friend's living room floor, completely shocked and unsure of what was going on and what I was going to do, but I was determined to figure it out.

It wasn't where I wanted to be at my age. I didn't want to have to ask for help again. I didn't want everyone to know I didn't have a place to live. I was worried they'd judge me, think less of me, not want to help or wonder why I couldn't help myself.

My Mom passing away and moving again in July:
As I will still processing everything from the sudden second move, I received a phone call that my mom had passed away less than three weeks later, on June 18th.

My mom was one of my best friends, and I talked to her on the phone and video chat daily. It's been a difficult situation to navigate through not having her to talk with and get advice from. My mom has always been the strongest person I know, and I learned a lot about survival and staying strong through watching her raise us all by herself as kids.

While grappling with my living situation and mourning the loss of my mom, the lady I was living with told me that Roger was too much. She realized having a dog in the house was more than she could handle. She told me I could stay as long as I needed to, but the dog couldn't stay there any longer.

With me already being too attached to Roger, I didn't want to get rid of him, so I chose to find a way where Roger and I wouldn't have to be separated.

The Airbnb in July:
Since my mom had just passed, I had a little money from her life insurance. I decided to use my portion to rent an Airbnb for July, and we moved on the 5th. I used the remainder of the money to buy food for us, pay my phone bill and two months on my storage building for July and August.

I at least knew we wouldn't be homeless and hungry, and I wouldn't lose my belongings.

I took on sporadic art commissions during July but struggled to find long-term employment and alternate living places. I reached out to everyone on my social channels, friends, family, churches, and non-profit organizations.

I even asked a local dog trainer if she had space in her warehouse we could stay. I asked the local police department if they had space in their buildings or if the deputies had an extra room for rent.

When the end of July came, I couldn't afford any remaining places on Airbnb or Craigslist, which led to the storage shed becoming an option.

Moving into the storage shed:
My brother already had a house of people and pets, but I didn't want to be on the streets, so he asked if I wanted to stay in his shed, to which I immediately agreed. He provided me with the cot, and Roger and I have been here since August 5th.

While living in a storage shed isn't ideal, it's keeping my dog and me from being on the streets. It is peaceful in some ways and sad and lonely in other ways.

However, I don't want to be here for October. It has been in the low 50's this week, with the last few nights being the coldest. I know the temperature will drop and only get worse in the coming days and weeks.

It's made me realize how urgently I need to change my situation, so we aren't out here as it gets colder.

It's hard for me to ask for help a lot of times.

My pride wants to be able to figure everything out without having to ask for help, but there have been days when I've felt completely lost, confused, and like a total failure.

I've tried to keep these struggles to myself, but I realize I am out of my element and farrrrr out of my comfort zone. I understand now that my stubborn pride will only hurt me, my mental health, and my situation if I continue to try doing this all alone.

How your donations will help me:
⦁ I already have a job lined up and waiting for me to start as soon as I figure out how to get back to Orlando.
⦁ My GoFundMe is set up to help me go from my current place in the storage shed in Georgia back to Orlando, where my belongings are. Your donations will help us find a safe, clean place to live while I start working and getting my life back on track.
⦁ I don't know how well my credit will help me in terms of a place to live, but your donations will go towards rent-- first + last month, security deposit, and any unforeseen rental expenses. I'll be looking for a month-to-month rental agreement or a 3-6 month lease until I find something more long-term.
⦁ Your donations will help with extra necessities like food, dog food, a vet update, clothing, toiletries, an eye exam and contacts, and other associated costs for moving back to Orlando.
⦁ I have long-time friends who run a transportation business and have offered to drive Roger down to Orlando for me. They will only charge me for Roger, letting me ride with them at no extra cost since we've known each other for so long.
⦁ I will need to find a vehicle + tax, tag, title, registration, gas, insurance, and any unforeseen repairs or expenses for the car and to get back and forth from work, the grocery store, the vet, etc.

Any amount you can donate will be appreciated and will go a long way towards helping us move out of this storage shed and back to Orlando!


Dustin Compton
Hiram, GA

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