Man who lived in Charlotte crawl space moves into new apartment

Will Howard now has his own place to call home.
Howard had been living in a crawlspace, despite qualifying for a federal housing voucher.
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 5:59 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It was a moment Will Howard has pictured for a long time – sitting in the leasing office of an apartment complex, signing his name over and over for a place to call his own.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Howard said as he thumbed through the paperwork.

Will has been homeless for two years. Recently, he’s been sleeping in a crawl space under a home near Uptown Charlotte.

He shouldn’t have been on the streets for so long. Last year, Will qualified for a federally funded Emergency Housing Voucher, given to vulnerable populations like those who are chronically homeless. The vouchers are distributed by Inlivian, Charlotte’s Housing authority.

Will and his caseworker Ed Smith, who works for the non-profit Running Works, spent months calling hundreds of different property owners. But because the affordable housing supply is so low in Charlotte, no one would accept his voucher.

Despite one door being slammed in his face after another, Will kept pushing.

“He always stayed optimistic, always had a positive attitude,” Smith said. “And always believed it was going to happen.”

In May, Will allowed WBTV to tell his story. He showed the camera the shocking crawl space he’d been sleeping in. Those images got the ball rolling.

His story made its way from Inlivian to the housing non-profit Social Serve and eventually to the owner of Lake Mist Apartments, who quickly offered him one of their affordable units.

On Wednesday, a moving truck pulled up to deliver Will’s new life.

Will Howard now has an apartment to call his own after years of homelessness.

Tara Peele, president of Socialserve who worked tirelessly to find Will a vacant apartment, was blown away by his story.

“The housing issues in Charlotte can feel really overwhelming,” she said. “It can feel like you want to give up sometimes. But if Mr. Howard won’t give up than we can’t give up.”

At 57, this is the first time Will has ever had a place that’s just his – and he has big plans for his new place.

“It’s most definitely a step up. I have no words to describe it,” Will said.

As the movers bring in an armchair, Will says “that’s where I’m going to write my memoir.” A memoir of perseverance – and the beauty of what can happen when people step up for each other.

“I’m not a quitter. That was never in the cards.”

While most of Will’s furniture was provided by the non-profit, “Furnish For Good,” he still needs a washer and dryer – and some household items. To help out, visit Will’s Amazon Wishlist, here.

Will Howard now has a home he can call his own.

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