From Homeless to Housed, a Story of Resilience

David Underwood, APAH Resident.

David Underwood, a current and longtime Marbella resident, has lived in Arlington on-and-off his entire life. He attended Patrick Henry Elementary school during the Cuban Missile Crisis and recalls the frequent emergency drills, like sheltering-in-place underneath his desk. He vividly remembers the sirens going off and the complete blackouts in Arlington during October 1962. Although David considers Arlington his home, some of his childhood was spent in Winchester, VA. So, he considers himself part city boy, part country boy, sharing, “I can catch a city bus and catch a fish!”

While David was working for Arlington County, helping to administer the SNAP program, a colleague realized that David was living out of his car during the workweek and getting himself cleaned up at a relative’s house in Hagerstown, MD on the weekends. Upon discovering that David was experiencing homelessness, Arlington County helped  connect him with permanent housing by enrolling him with A-SPAN. David has been living at Marbella ever since.

An avid supporter  of affordable housing, David has visited Richmond to advocate for affordable housing at the state-level, in addition to his local efforts and work. As a partner of APAH’s, A-SPAN has helped keep him housed for many years and David reflects, “if I didn’t have affordable housing, I would never have been able to retire.”

Not only does David have 18 years of work experience with Arlington County, 9 years with Environmental Resources and 9 with the SNAP program, he is also a student. After retirement, David decided to pursue a life-long dream of earning a degree in human resources and was attending classes until a car accident forced him to pause his studies. After a few months of physical therapy, David is now back to taking classes – but his return to school didn’t coincide with his HR program. So, while waiting for those classes to start again, he’s taking information technology classes! He’s most proud of completing a CompTIA A+ Computer Programming course and is on his way of completing an IT Security certification.

As his eagerness to grow and learn, even after retiring, demonstrates, David has not let the COVID-19 pandemic slow him down. For the past year, he has spent his time studying and regularly calling to check-in with his neighbors. And like all of us, he’s also hunkered down and spent time watching Netflix. Admirably, this spring he started connecting his neighbors with crucial COVID-19 vaccine information by sharing clinic locations and dispelling any myths or concerns they may have.

David is resilient, kind, and ambitious. He has big plans to complete his human resources degree and certifications while continuing to be an active member of his community.