AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, a man from Austin who spent decades homeless will start his first college class in more than 40 years.
David Carter dropped out of the University of Texas at Austin in 1975 and at 67-years-old, he’s been re-admitted.
“If I could change one thing about my past life, I would’ve stayed in school,” Carter said.
He told KXAN, over the years, “I had a lot of trouble with substance abuse.’
He also struggled with schizophrenia.
Carter ended up spending most of his life without a place he can call home. “Sleeping in the shop windows or under the bridge,” he said.
After dropping out in 1975, Carter said he bounced around from one city to the next. He came back to Austin in 1995, but continued to call the streets his home.
That changed about six years ago.
“We’re extremely proud,” said Jim Currier, Supportive Housing Program Manager at Caritas of Austin.
Caritas of Austin helped Carter find an affordable place to live at a Foundation Communities apartment.
“A person’s well-being and stability start with a home,” said Currier. “From there, they can start building their dreams toward the future, and David is a perfect example of that.”
Both Caritas and Foundation Communities said they help with more than just housing.
“We try to provide as much services as we can to continue to house them,” Currier said.
Trinica Sampson, Supportive Services Coordinator at Foundation Communities, explained. “It’s one thing to get folks into housing, but it’s another to make sure that they continue to be stable.”
Sampson said Foundation Communities has workers on-site who can help. “Whether that’s getting the mental health care they need or connecting to primary care provides or working on their income, budgeting skills.”
Over the years, Carter spent a lot of time panhandling on Guadalupe Street near UT.
“I have a lot of fun talking to people,” he said. “Math majors. History majors. English majors. Journalism. All kinds of fields.”
That’s where he met a UT student who helped him re-enroll at the school.
Carter said when he received his re-admittance letter. “I was just overwhelmed. The best thing ever to happen to me, potentially.”
No matter where he’s been, Carter said, one constant has been his notebook.
“I carry a notebook with me everywhere I want to go and a pen. I used to be a studio art major, but I had injured my arm and destroyed my drawing ability, and I’ve been looking to literature as a means of expression.”
He continues to write down ideas he gets and things he learns from conversations with people.
He said he hopes to write a book some day.