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From Homeless to Homeowner: Local man shares his recovery off the streets

California’s growing homelessness crisis has no easy solution but some people have broken free from living a life on the streets as the state's unsheltered homeless numbers surge as much as 7.5% from 2022 to 2023. 

A Rancho Mirage homeowner has found a way into a new home and is now celebrating a new life he’s living he describes as beyond his wildest dreams.

"So not only do I own this house, I own the land," said Ronny Bailey.

News Channel 3's Jeff Stahl spoke to Bailey at his new home saying, “This is your house.” Bailey replied, "This is my house.”

Bailey used to be homeless and living day-to-day on the streets of Palm Springs. Now, he's a homeowner with a mortgage of 5 months. 

“I’m so thankful," Bailey said, "and I’d like to thank everybody.”

Bailey thanks his realtor, his mortgage lender, and the home’s seller who Bailey says all took extra time and helped him make the deal happen. 

He also is grateful to his employer, a Palm Springs auto dealership. "This may sound stupid," Bailey said, "but my work to me is a working vacation.” 

He works as a service advisor full-time and used that income to qualify for his home loan. Bailey says living on the street was so much harder than his life now.

“The last night I slept on the sidewalk was very near where I first met you. And it was on the sidewalk at the Mizell Senior Center,” Bailey said.

Jeff Stahl chanced upon and interviewed Bailey during the 2019 Point In Time Homeless Count at the corner of Sunrise Way and Ramon. It's a nationwide survey of homeless individuals traditionally conducted on a single day in January.

Bailey remembered Jeff Stahl and reached out to him hoping to share his recovery story to help others in a similar position.

Video of that interview still exists and Jeff Stahl offered Bailey a chance to step back into his troubled past and watch it again.

Jeff Stahl had asked Bailey in 2019, “Would you like help?" "Yep," Bailey had replied, adding, "A tear comes to my eye. I would love help.” 

At the time, Bailey said he wanted an apartment after being on the streets for five and a half years despite receiving regular disability benefits. The money always ran out each month before he could save enough to get into an apartment. 

Riverside County did not conduct the annual Point In Time survey this year, citing its high cost. The state of California has spent more than $242 billion on addressing homelessness issues, but the numbers continue to climb. California has the nation's highest number of unsheltered people, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 181,399 people were estimated to be living in California in 2023, 28% of the nation's homeless population, according to a HUD count. 

“When you’re out here on the streets, you have to look proper for your potential landlord the same as you would for an employer," Bailey told Jeff Stahl in 2019 during the annual survey adding, "but sometimes you can’t do that due to the circumstances.” 

Now, looking back at his old self, Bailey said, “There were a few times I lost my hope in humanity because I was tossed out like a piece of garbage.”

Bailey saves his biggest thanks for DAP Health who turned his life around, and namely one person in the organization Bailey says took him under his wing.

Bill Bruner is a Peer Support Specialist at DAP Health. Bruner said about Bailey, “The thing about Ronny was, he was willing. He took action. And that isn’t easy.” 

Bruner says he helped Bailey connect with resources, but Bailey did all the hard work. “Ronny did. He took action. He had some pitfalls. First, he got into rehab. Then he did sober living. Then he applied for our own DAP housing and he got into that.”

Bailey's friends have cheered him on and say his recovery has been an inspiration to them. 

“I’ve had my struggles," said one friend James Whittier who added, "and he’s always been there for me.. Who lives the program and has been a shining example of it.”

Another friend and his barber Evan Graham said, "Ronny is a great example of what the human spirit can do for change and change for the better and perseverance and just not giving up.”

Bailey has seen a world of change in his life over the past two years in taking back his life and future. He's lost friends to addiction along the way but hopes to help others with his story.

“I’m very proud of what I accomplished and I’m living a life beyond my wildest dreams," Bailey said, "and I do deserve this.”

Watch From Homeless to Homeowner at 6:00 p.m. on KESQ News Channel 3 with coverage starting at 4:00 p.m.

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Jeff Stahl

You can watch Jeff every weekday morning on News Channel 3 in the Morning and News Channel 3 at Noon. Learn more about Jeff here.


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