Homeless veteran is given the gift of homeownership

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The road home has been a long one for veteran Lewis Morris.

The Hoosier served our country in the Marine Corp in the 70's and then bounced around the Midwest before coming back home to Indiana earlier this year for a family member's funeral. Prior to that, Morris had been living on the streets of Cincinnati for 11 years.

“And from there on I’ve been dreaming," Morris said. "I still think I’m still dreaming, but it’s a dream come true.”

After the funeral, Morris stayed in Indy and started to sleep in the backyard of a home on the 2300 block of Arsenal Ave. that his brother, who is also a Marine, built in 1972. The house had been in the family ever since, until Morris' sister died a few years ago.

“There are some good people in this world," Lewis said. "(Tony Roberts) is one of them.”

Tony Roberts came into Morris' life at a time when Morris didn't have much going for him. He had left all his few belongings in Cincinnati and now neighbors were complaining about the homeless man staying behind that empty home on Arsenal Ave., which belonged to the city.

Tony Roberts, a contractor for Indianapolis, was then tasked with going out to the home and checking on Morris.

“He come around the house and said, ‘Lewis,’ and I was ‘oh Lord," Morris said. "And he said 'I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to help you.'”

“There was something about him," Tony Roberts said. "Nobody should be living in that backyard was my thought and I decided to do something about it."

Roberts did. He bought the house for $2,000 dollars from the city that day and then started a non-profit to do more.

Community members, businesses and city employees all began to work to get the home ready for Morris to move into by Christmas.

“I gave him my word," Roberts said. "I don’t’ know why I decided to give Lewis his home back. It was the right thing to do.”

Roberts hit goal and Morris was given the keys to his home on giving Tuesday at grand celebration with more than 100 people in attendance.

"I’m still dreaming. Don’t wake me until this dream is done," Morris said. “It’s just beyond words and the people who helped me get here, I love them."

“Seeing the look on Lewis’ face is all I can ask for," Roberts said. "And the personal gratification I’ve gained out of it is priceless.”

Roberts said non-profit organization he started to organize the donations coming in for Morris will continue to work with Indianapolis city leaders to help other homeless veterans find reasonable, safe affordable housing.