MELBOURNE, Fla. — Over the past month, Melbourne's homeless — people such as Albert Gardener — are finding a way off the streets and down a path toward permanent housing.

Gardener just moved into his new home and is proud of it.

What You Need To Know

  • The Street to Home Bridge Housing Program was developed by the City of Melbourne

  • The funding source for temporary housing is $180,000 in COVID relief funds

  • 4 people have found permanent housing, and 7 more are on that path.

  • Some funds have been used to hire case managers

"This is our bathroom, our shower," Gardener said while giving a tour.

He's even prouder he is not homeless anymore.

The life of Albert Gardener, a former Marine, spiraled downward after his years of service.

He and his girlfriend found themselves homeless, barely getting by in Melbourne.

"I was sleeping on the streets, on sidewalks, in the woods," he said.

Gardener never gave up on his dream — a place to call home. He found it through the new "The Street to Home Bridge Housing Program" created by the city of Melbourne.

"We can get you in this temporary housing, with permanent housing as the end goal," according to Cindy Dittmer, Melbourne Economic Development and Planning Director. "We are here and ready to help you."

Temporary housing is paid for with more than $180,000 of COVID-19 relief funds provided by the state.

Since September, 32 people have been placed in 27 households. Four, like Gardener, are now in permanent housing, and seven more are on the road to finding new homes.

"A number of the individuals that have been housed were homeless in the downtown area," Dittmer said.

"They have the path that they are following into permanent housing, it's different for each person, and we step in and we step in there with the support," Daily Bread Executive Director Jeff Njus said.

Gardener can't believe after years on the streets, in a matter of weeks, he is home.

"I feel safe, for me and my girl," he said, smiling.

Daily Bread is also using some of the funds to hire a new case manager to work with clients.