CEDAR RAPIDS — A couple that was recently homeless is now celebrating a success story.
Just a few weeks ago, Chad Engelbart and his girlfriend, Amy, were among many living under an Interstate 380 bridge in a tent.
They said criminal history and issues with drugs and alcohol left them without a home.
Now, the scene has dramatically changed.
“It’s not bad, we have to get a shower curtain, yet,” Chad Engelbart said while looking in his bathroom.
It’s nothing fancy, but for about the last two weeks they’ve been happily living in a one-bedroom apartment. They found some help and, despite their criminal backgrounds, they also found someone willing to rent to them.
“By the grace of God and the people that God sent our way, it would have happened no other way,” Chad Engelbart said.
“It’s day and night difference. I am sure they are going to be very happy there,” said Abbe Center Homeless Outreach Worker Chris Myers.
Myers helped the couple find their new home. She said while she’s hopeful more people can move into new living situations, mental health and addiction can make it difficult.
“I don’t believe that everybody that’s currently homeless will have the success story that those two have,” Myers said.
Chad and Amy know they’re lucky, not just to have a home, but because the day after they got their apartment, something else changed.
“We got married,” Chad Engelbart said.
Amy wore her daughter’s bright pink prom dress and Chad wore a matching pink tie.
Now, this married couple of two weeks knows the importance of saving money whenever possible.
“The chair that’s in the bedroom in there, I picked that up in the dumpster behind a furniture store,” Chad Engelbart said.
They’re also spending time paying it forward by visiting and helping others who are still homeless.
“If everybody would just take the time to help one other person the world wouldn’t be so bad,” Amy Engelbart said.
“We have personal experience. A lot of the homeless now come to us because of what we’ve been through and where we are at now. We try to be up front with them. I am not going to — you call me any time you want and we’ll help you out. Don’t call me for no beer. Don’t call me because, you know, you need a fix. If you need clothes or if you need food, toiletries, we are good. We will help you out and we will bend over backwards to help you, because we know what it’s like,” Chad Engelbart said.
Amy has a job, and Chad said he’s receiving disability assistance. With that income, the two said they can maintain their rent payments. They said a lot of their belongings were given to them by friends, but they’re slowly getting things to furnish the apartment.
“God has definitely put us in a position now to understand a lot more, not to take things for granted. We enjoy the things we have now and we appreciate it a lot more. I just think it has made us stronger people in the long run,” Amy Engelbart said.
Myers said there are several organizations that have programs to help the homeless, such as the Abbe Center, Waypoint and HACAP.