Beating Homelessness: “I’ll never be back there. Never. I couldn’t sleep on hard concrete again.”

JENNIE McKEON @JennieMnwfdn

FORT WALTON BEACH — When he was homeless, Tim had to worry about finding a safe place to rest both eyes at night.

Now, after two months as a town house tenant, his only daily worry is wondering what he’ll have for breakfast.

“I get up every morning and instead of waiting for the stores to sell beer, I’m thinking about what I’ll have for breakfast,” he said. “Do I want pancakes or cereal?”

Tim (who declined to give his last name — “Everyone already knows me,” he said) has lived in Fort Walton Beach for 22 years, where he has floated between rentals and couch surfing. The last three years he’d been living on the streets carrying all of his possessions in a worn backpack while on the waiting list for permanent housing. His life took a positive turn in June when he quit drinking and was finally placed in a two-bedroom home of his own.

“I’ll never be back there. Never,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep on hard concrete again.”

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Drinking the blues away

Tim’s plight began in 2015 when his dad and long-term girlfriend died within a couple of months of one another.

“I started drinking my blues away,” he said. “It wasn’t the answer.”

The heavy drinking — paired with a pancreatic disease — was starting to kill Tim. Doctors warned him. Police officers warned him. He finally got the message one morning when he woke up inside the Intensive Care Unit at a local hospital.

“It was either

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