Nestor Senior Village resident Mark led a tranquil existence for many years, lending his voice to his church choir, finding fulfillment in his work and embracing a harmonious life alongside his mother in their San Diego home.

But after his mother’s death in 2015 and significant health challenges of his own, mounting expenses and an unmanageable reverse mortgage plunged Mark, then 55, into the terrifying world of homelessness.

“There’s a scary element that lives on streets – there is so much screaming, violence and drugs. Some of the shelters I stayed at looked and felt like prisons,” Mark said. “It was absolutely scary.”

Born in 1961, Mark is a lifelong San Diegan who worked an array of office and restaurant jobs since he was 15 years old and was a devout member of Saint Stephen’s Cathedral.

In his 50s, Mark was hit by a series of health problems – including multiple hernias, high blood pressure, arthritis of the knees and chronic kidney failure – that rendered him permanently disabled and unable to work.

After his mother’s death, he struggled to repay her reverse mortgage with limited disability payments. In 2016, the bank foreclosed, and Mark was forced to live in shelters and his car.

Lacking access to a place to wash his clothes, he bought cheap clothes at a thrift store when his old ones became too ragged and dirty. Without a refrigerator, buying fresh and nutritious food was also out of the question.

In all, he was without a home for seven years.

“I was lucky enough that my church sometimes let me sleep in my car in their parking lot and they let me use their restroom to clean up,” Mark said. “It was getting harder and harder because I’m getting older and sicker.”

As his life teetered on the edge of despair, a chance encounter with a compassionate CBS reporter opened a door to the San Diego Rescue Mission. From there, Mark found himself welcomed into the comforting embrace of Nestor Senior Village, National CORE’s newest affordable housing community in San Diego.

“It’s great! I love everything about Nestor Senior Village,” Mark said. “The residents and staff are pleasant, but most importantly, it’s quiet. I love the peacefulness of the community.”

Mark has been living at Nestor Senior Village since the end of January. He said the community is a perfect place to enjoy his retirement after a lifetime of work. Mark noted that without National CORE’s affordable housing, his life would be in limbo.

“I cannot even imagine where I would be without National CORE because I’m not sure if I could survive on the streets,” he said.

Mark is now looking to rebuild his life at Nestor Senior Village. He’s thinking of singing again at his church choir, though he says he is badly out of practice. He also mentioned that he wants to do volunteer work at his church, and he wants to adopt a pet since he loves animals.

His faith in God and the kindness of homeless services workers helped to sustain him during his homelessness.

“I had a strong faith in God that something good would happen to me,” Mark said. “I’ve been lucky to have so many people supporting me, whether it’s through my church, the San Diego Rescue Mission or National CORE. I sometimes felt like I was floating through life, but that God directed me to many opened doors to take me where I needed to be.”