In 1984, Rob Marriner from New Zealand found himself in an impossible situation. The teenager had to choose to live in a home with his abusive father, or to leave and take his chances on his own. For the next 33 years, he lived alone on the streets of Auckland, sleeping in alleys, taking showers at local swimming pools when he could and surviving with the help of a few close friends.
While most people sleeping rough are grateful for any help they can get, Marriner was very independent, and made headlines around the world after warning people not to give money to panhandlers. Instead, he suggested people donate food or supplies like a warm blanket whenever they could.
Now, after decades of working, saving and waiting, Rob finally has a place he can call home.
One of Rob's friends from the street, Jason Raiwhara, had managed to move into a small rental property, but soon died of cancer. While this was tragic, there was a silver lining: Rob was able to take his friend's place and move into the home.
Now, him and his roommate call the 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house their own, and Rob is enjoying all the comforts he missed for over 30 years.
Click the next page to take a tour of Rob's home, and learn how he's adjusting!
With his own bedroom, a backyard to relax in and a small laptop to watch movies on, Rob's place is everything he's been dreaming about for decades. On his first night inside, he took his first private shower in over 10 years, and stayed in until the warm water ran out. Afterwards, he treated himself to a 9 hour nap. He can't even remember the last time he slept so long.
"You can have coffee when you want and open the fridge when you like," Rob said about his newfound freedom.
But it can also be "spooky" and "strange" to live under a roof after sleeping on the streets for so long. Plus, Rob has had to adjust to doing everyday things, like cooking, again.
Rob and his friend planned to have meat pies for their first dinner in the house, but after sitting in his oven for 2 hours the meals were still cold. Rob didn't realize he had to flip a switch to turn the appliance on. But the next day he had everything figured out, and cooked up a king-sized breakfast for all his friends.
There are also new responsibilities attached to his home. "It's the first time in 30 years that I'm not going to be debt free, "he said. "I've got to pay bills now - when I was living on the streets all my money was my own money."
Luckily Rob has found work, and his neighbors have helped him fill his new home with lots of lovely housewarming gifts.
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