Lehigh Valley man helps roommate through struggles with unemployment, homelessness
Louis Matyas, a Lehigh Valley resident, was a construction worker whose life changed forever when he was hit by a vehicle in March 2014.
Louis’s injuries were so severe, titanium implants were installed in his legs and collarbone.
Additionally, he developed a post-concussive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. After spending a year in the hospital, Louis struggled to keep a job and a place to live.
Louis currently has no full-time job and is facing homelessness.
One of Louis’s greatest allies in recent times has been his landlord, 66-year-old Jim Saville.
For the past year, Louis lived in Saville’s rented home in the 400 block of Hellertown’s Main Street.
Prior to moving in with Saville, Louis had been sleeping in a tool shed.
“I first met Louis [last August] when he was helping my old roommate move out,” Saville said. “Once we got to talking, it became clear that he needed a place to stay. So he took over the empty room in the house.”
Saville hasn’t exactly had an easy ride, either.
“I moved into [the Hellertown house] after Hurricane Sandy hit my home [in October 2012]. There was so much damage to my house that I needed another place to live,” Saville said. “Fortunately, a friend of mine let me rent this place while I sorted everything out.”
Saville has also experienced financial struggles, which he cites as a consequence of taking Social Security at 62 instead of 66. As a result, he had to return to part-time work in order to make ends meet.
Throughout the year Louis lived with Saville, the latter said he showed patience and generosity when many others in his position would not. Saville not only understood Louis’s struggles, but actively tried to help him get back on his feet.
Saville organized several fundraising benefits for Louis at his local church. He postponed moving out of the house several times for Louis’s sake knowing Louis had nowhere to go.
Saville even decided to help his tenant with his transportation.
“I spent several hundred dollars on repairs for Louis’ car and bought him three months worth of insurance in the hopes he could use it to get a job. That way he wouldn’t be limited to just local job openings.”
Unfortunately, Louis couldn’t afford to keep the car insured and his car was impounded. Saville paid $200 to get the car back, but Louis still couldn’t afford to insure his vehicle.
“The car doesn’t even work now,” Saville said. “The alternator’s gone bad, so it’s just sitting there.” Louis transferred his car’s title over to Saville to help ease some of his debts.
When asked why he continued to help Louis, Saville cited Louis’s strong desire to get out of his situation and persevere.
“He wants to work,” Saville said. “He’d rather be out doing a job than sitting at home doing nothing. He doesn’t want to be on welfare. But Louis and others like him aren’t getting the tools they need to get back on their feet with the system we have in place right now.”
Saville believes Louis’s struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, combined with hypertension issues, play a large role in affecting Louis’s temperament.
From Saville’s perspective, those problems – and the fact his injuries make him more of an insurance liability – have made Louis a less desirable hire than other prospective employees.
Louis’ lack of a job is only one of the many issues he still faces. The house he and Saville lived in was sold by its owner and they have been forced to vacate. For Saville, the move is inconvenient, but not a devastation.
“I don’t know where I’m going yet,” Saville said. “I’ll probably find a place to rent somewhere.”
Louis, however, has no place to go. Without a job to provide him with income, he couldn’t find an affordable place to live before he had to leave.