LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Most days, you can find 58-year-old Stanley Sumner cooking. It’s one of his favorite things to do.
Cooking a homemade meal, however, now comes as a luxury to him.
“Oh, it’s great,” Sumner said. “It’s a big difference from being on the street.”
For the past few years, Sumner called the streets of Lafayette home. No food, no bathroom and no place to sleep.
“Last winter I had three trespassing charges against me because I fell asleep in public places,” Sumner said. “I didn’t have any place to go.”
Before he found himself living on the street, Sumner spent four years in the United State’s Army serving as a cook. He then went on to be a cook at several restaurants in the Greater Lafayette area.
However, he lost his job and eventually found himself living on the streets for about two years.
“I never realized how much I had to worry about where I was even going to go to the bathroom until I was homeless,” Sumner explained. “You have to worry about where you’re going to be the next hour or even the next 45 minutes.”
Sumner doesn’t have to worry about situations like that anymore. For the first holiday season in two years, he finally has a home and doesn’t have to worry about when or where his next meal will come from.
It’s all thanks to a housing voucher aimed at getting homeless veterans off the streets.
“Stan was our first recipient of the HUD-Vash voucher,” Rick Mummey at Lafayette Transitional Housing said. “Through HUD and the VA, they have a housing voucher that is like section 8 and goes out to veterans who had been chronically homeless before.”
Mummey works as Sumner’s case manager and said this past year, they’ve assisted 88 homeless veterans and their families in the community.
That number is one less now that Sumner has a home of his own and is no longer homeless. He said one of his favorite things to do now that he has a kitchen again is cook for his neighbors.
“It’s just being confident enough to be able to do something, to help out, to pay back,” Sumner said. “That’s what I try to do. Everybody has been helping me for a while, and it’s time for me to pay back a little bit, too.”