Making It in the Bay

Homeless Man’s New Friend Helps Him Find Home in the South Bay

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Thomas Johnson is not sleeping in his van tonight. The formerly homeless man is happily living in a new South Bay studio apartment thanks to his new friend.

Johnson met Antonio Chavez at the gym, which Johnson joined so he could have a place to shower. Now, Johnson has his own bathroom in his own home.

"Excellent, especially a bathroom," Johnson said, describing his new abode. "I lived so many years without a bathroom."

Johnson spent 10 years on the streets after his parents passed away. His only companions were the cold winter nights and the hot summer days.

"My faith kept me going," he said. "A lot of cold nights."

Johnson then came across Chavez at a gym.

"He was a faster bike rider than I was at the gym," Chavez said.

After hearing Johnson's story, Chavez, who previously retired from Santa Clara County, knew what to do. He got Johnson on a housing waiting list with the county and booked him an appointment with the social security office.

"God is good," Johnson said. "God will send people to you that will help you."

Chavez drove Johnson to appointments.

"I'm blessed so I'm giving back in this way," Chavez said. "That's part of what I'm doing now as retired."

Johnson also has four years of social security back pay coming his way. He said he's a double winner now. His worst nightmare is over and his best dream just came true.

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