After spending more than three decades living on the streets — seeking refuge under bridges, in the woods and most recently on a small, grassy patch by the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles — the 47-year-old moved into his first apartment in time for Thanksgiving.
On Tuesday, Anderson was given the keys to a studio inside a sleek apartment complex that opened earlier this month and caters to the city’s chronically homeless. The space is modest with a kitchenette, spacious bathroom and comfortable-sized living space.
But for Anderson, the apartment is the first place he can set his wallet down without worry since he ran away from an abusive father at 13.
"It’s like it’s a dream," Anderson said, after examining a flat-screen television given to him through a program grant. "It’s like I’m afraid I’m going to wake up."
As Anderson settled into his space, his weathered hands shook as he placed new bath linens on a towel rack. He put a roll of toilet paper on its holder, then sat for a second to absorb the moment, tears welling in his blue eyes. Later, when he was presented with gift cards to a local grocery store, he fell to his knees in gratitude.
Located in the heart of skid row, Gateways Apartments was created to house the worst of the worst, those with long stints of homelessness, mental illness and drug and alcohol issues, in hopes that providing four walls and a bed will bring stability to the hardest-hit transients. The residents began moving in this week.