Gannet Pointe

Turning Point: A Journey to Stability and Community at Gannet Pointe

March 26, 2024, will mark the two-year anniversary of the day Mr. Harris moved into his brand-new apartment—a significant milestone on his remarkable journey from living in the nearby woods for 18 years to becoming a valued member of the Gannet Pointe community.

Mr. Harris, 72, hails from North Carolina but has spent most of his life in Florida. Before finding a home with Ability Housing, Mr. Harris faced significant challenges, including a long period of homelessness that ultimately found him living in the woods behind the site that would become Gannet Pointe. He recalls watching the community’s first building go up and praying every day that he could live there. When he saw construction on the second building start, he remembers asking, “Please God, get me out of here.” That’s when an encounter with a member of Advent Health’s H.O.P.E Team changed everything. With their assistance, Mr. Harris was finally able to leave his life in the woods behind and move into Gannet Pointe’s Building #2.

Mr. Harris, who was dangerously underweight when he left the woods, has experienced significant improvements in his health and well-being since moving to Gannet Pointe, including bringing his weight up to normal level for a man of his size. Previously managing his health care and benefits over the telephone from his outdoor camp, he now receives support from Gannet Pointe’s case managers. He describes them as “great,” and says that he “wouldn’t trade them for the world.” He finds just talking to them very helpful, and they are also available to help navigate life’s challenges. 

Today, Mr. Harris is an active member of the Gannet Pointe community, socializing with his neighbors when he wants to and attending events at the community center, including resident engagement meetings and holiday parties. He takes a great deal of pride in the part-time job that he has with the on-site property management company at Gannet Pointe where, in exchange for tidying up the outdoor spaces on the weekends, he receives a discount on his rent. He enjoys simple pleasures like watching TV and playing with his cat, Kelly, whom Mr. Harris befriended as a kitten when they both were living in the woods. At the time of this interview in early February, Mr. Harris was looking forward to the Super Bowl (where he picked Kansas City to win) and the Daytona 500.

When asked if he had any advice for Ability Housing, Mr. Harris replied without hesitation: “Build more properties and get more people off the street.”