It’s been a long time coming for Rex and Gail Perry. After illness, unemployment and eventual eviction forced them into homelessness, the couple’s journey through the “lowest low” ended at Bruce Street as the Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity handed them the keys to a new home.
“We all deserve to have a home; a place to go to,” Gail Perry said Tuesday during the home’s dedication ceremony in Huntington’s Fairfield West neighborhood. “When you have no place to call your own, you feel like a second-class person, like you don’t belong here.”
When Rex’s health took him from his job as a millwright at a DuPont plant in New Jersey, coinciding with Gail’s own battle with breast cancer, the couple lost their home in Delaware. Rex, a former Marine Corps lance corporal, serving from 1976 to 1982, moved his wife and his therapy dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Jacob, back to his hometown of Huntington.
Once in Huntington, the couple struggled to find a landlord that would allow dogs on the property, Gail said. Refusing to give up Jacob, who helps Rex manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the Perrys spent seven of the snowiest weeks of winter living in their car in the Interstate 64 rest area in Huntington.
The Perrys took advantage of the Huntington VA Medical Center’s Homeless Veterans Resource Center, which provided them necessities such as a place to shower, do their laundry, and most important, apply for permanent housing.
“That is something that I’ve always wanted: a new home,” Gail said. “I’ve rented homes and had used homes that were nothing but money pits, but this is a first.”