Once homeless, vet ‘speechless’ at Redford Twp. house
Redford Township — For someone who was once homeless, Thomas Frazier said getting the keys to his own house almost left him speechless.
“I really at a loss for words,” he said. “I’m just really happy.”
Officials with Bank of America and the human services nonprofit Southwest Solutions on Friday gave Frazier, 61, the keys to his newly renovated mortgage-free home in Redford Township and held a housewarming for him and his family.
Family and friends joined officials and community leaders for the event at Frazier’s home, a three-bedroom bungalow-style house.
Frazier and his family were led to the cream-colored house by 14 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that typically provides motorcycle escorts at funerals for military veterans.
As Frazier, his wife, Sharleeta, and their 8-month-old son, Thomas Jr., pulled into the driveway, they were welcomed by flags flying over the front lawn, “Welcome Home” signs and multiple rounds of applause.
“This is a wonderful thing,” Sharleeta Frazier, 37, said after entering her new home. “This is great. This is way more than Christmas.”
Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America and Detroit-based Southwest Solutions teamed up to give Frazier the home, mortgage-free.
“First and foremost, I want to thank you for your service to this country and your community as well,” Kevin Breil, Bank of America’s vice president of home loans, told Frazier as he handed him the keys. “We believe the key to this home unlocks new possibilities for you and your family. We welcome a true hero to this neighborhood.”
Since 2012, Bank of America has donated more than 1,600 properties to nonprofits like Southwest Solutions that provide homes to military veterans and first responders.
Tracey Schultz Kobylarz, Redford Township supervisor, praised the program for choosing her community as the Fraziers’ new home.
“To see that little baby and think that he’ll graduate from our high school some day, that’s what it’s all about it,” she said. “Our township is very committed to helping our veterans. And if this is one way we can help our veterans and strengthen our community, it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Frazier, a Vietnam-era veteran, served as a combat medic in the Army. After being honorably discharged, he went to school to become a registered nurse.
But in 2005, Frazier was diagnosed with abdominal cancer. Unable to work, he exhausted his savings and was left homeless.
More than 1 in 10 homeless adults in the United States are veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. More than 1,100 veterans in Michigan are homeless, according to the HUD report.
In 2008, Frazier came to Emmanuel House, a Detroit nonprofit that provides human services to veterans.
Once his cancer was in remission and he was back on his feet, Frazier began working at Emmanuel House, and he continues to help other veterans there.
Frazier said he plans to turn the basement into his “man-cave” and is already thinking about what kind of meals he’ll be able to prepare in the kitchen.
More importantly, he said, the new house is someplace where he and his family can make wonderful memories. One of the first things he plans to do is put a swing set in the backyard for his son.
“It’s a beautiful house,” he said. “It’s someplace where my son can grow up and really have the life he deserves.”