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Homeless to homeowner: El Paso veteran first to own home through Housing Authority program

By: Gina Benitez
EL PASO, Texas -- Just a few years ago, Daniel Lemus lost his wife, and his home and found himself living in an El Paso veterans' shelter.

But Thursday, Lemus moved into a permanent home, one that he owns himself.

"I had my doubts. It took so long, but I persevered for three years. So you can only imagine how I feel now that it's all finally here," Lemus said.

Moving into your own home is a good feeling for anyone.

But for Lemus, it's even sweeter.

"I never thought that I would get a house and then get it furnished at the same time. So I'm really, really happy," Lemus said.

Just a few years ago, Lemus was living in a shelter.

In 2008, he was one of the first homeless vets to enroll in the HUD-VASH program.

HUD-VASH is a partnership between the Housing Authority and Veterans Affairs.

The program offers vets financial rent assistance along with VA services to address the underlying reasons of their homelessness.

After enrolling in HUD-VASH, Lemus continued his progress.

He got a job as a substitute teacher at YISD, and then in 2011, enrolled in the Housing Authority's self-sufficiency and home ownership programs.

"We just learned that Mr. Lemus is the first veteran in the United States, in the entire country, to graduate from that program into home ownership," said El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke helped haul furniture, donated by Operation H.O.P.E, into Lemus' new home.

"Nothing beats working with a veteran directly, literally helping him move his belongings into a home that he's able to afford, through assistance that he received through the Housing Authority," O'Rourke said.

"There were some bumps in the road, but I was able to overcome it, and it culminated in me getting this wonderful house," Lemus said.

To find out if you qualify for any of the Housing Authority's programs, click the link below.