STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Forced to leave his Stockton apartment due to rising rent, a 79-year-old man wound up on the streets, living in his car.
“I tell anybody it’s a nightmare. It’s just living in constant motion. You never know what the next moment is going to bring,” Claude Bailey told FOX40.
Bailey said for more than 20 years, he had lived in a Stockton apartment on a fixed income. But in November 2019, his landlord raised the rent.
“I’m almost 80 years, I’m 79 years old, almost 80, and I had to go,” he said.
Heartbroken, Bailey had no other choice but to live in his car for the next 10 months.
“You never know when you’re going to get robbed. You never know when you’re going to get beat up. You never know when you are going to be told, ‘You can’t stay here,’” Bailey said.
While Bailey was out on his luck, Darlene Lagrimas Montes was out looking for her old friend.
“Me and my husband kept thinking about him, ‘Where’s Claude at?’” she recalled.
She said it wasn’t until she volunteered as a poll worker at Delta College that fate intervened.
“It was a godsend because you were supposed to be there, so you could see Claude,” Montes said.
The two reconnected and through a network of friends and family, enough money was raised to provide Bailey with some clothes, a warm meal and a temporary home.
“No matter what the situation was … he still had a smile on his face,” friend Tami Marsh told FOX40.
Montes, Marsh, and friends are now working on getting Bailey into affordable senior living housing. Bailey said he has been on a waiting list for years but is hoping to get a permanent place soon.
If you would like to help, you can reach out to Tami Marsh at Tamimarsh20@yahoo.com.