Mario Martinez is about to live the American dream. What makes that astonishing is that he is going straight from homeless to homeowner in one step.
After five years saving up every penny from selling newspapers, Martinez and his four dogs closed on a 2,500-square-foot home on three acres of land in Charlotte, Tennessee.
"I'm so grateful," he told the Nashville station, WKRN. "There are so many people who believed in me."
Six years ago, Martinez fell on hard times. He lost his job and his home was foreclosed on. Ever since then, he’s been living in a trailer, nestled inside an abandoned barn without heat or running water.
Martinez pulled together his down payment using money he made from selling “The Contributor,” a non-profit paper distributed by homeless people, and from a lawn-care business that he named after his beloved dog, Bear.
But it was realtor Brian Kemp, who met Martinez on the street, who got the wheels in motion. Kemp helped Martinez search for a house and apply for the home loan.
“I didn't help him. Mario helped me restore my faith in the people that are standing out on the street asking for money,” Kemp told WKRN. “I won’t look the other way anymore."
Martinez says he’s most excited about his new Jacuzzi tub.
"So we fell on hard times, but now those hard times are over," he told WKRN. "The kids and I, we're going to have a home. I'm so excited. I worked hard for this."