Tampa officer's years of persistance lead homeless man to accept help

Posted at 4:22 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 19:52:14-04
Tampa Police Officer Dan McDonald asked the same question for four and a half years.
Hey Jerry, how are you doing? Are you ready to get off the street?
Not yet. No, Officer McDonald.
The answer from the homeless man in a wheelchair was always “no.”
"I called him the Mount Everest of homeless recovery because it's, ‘How do we get Jerry housed?’ One step at a time, and we got there,” McDonald said.
Jerry "Red" Bodiford lived on street corners around downtown Tampa.
Today his answer was finally “yes” to get off the street after 30 years of being homeless.
"Red" got an apartment of his own and furniture to fill it – a bed, tables and lighting – thanks to Home Makers of Hope.
"I think it just takes them up over the hump, over the edge, providing some really special things for them that they can call their own,” said Connie Haydon-McPeak of Home Makers of Hope.
McDonald got "Red" an ID, then disability paperwork and housing applications.  A case worker, the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative and Gracepoint, a wellness agency, took care of the rest.
"His case worker will continue to come to him and visit him on a regular basis for follow up treatment. He's been homeless for 30 years and we realize it's going to be a big adjustment for him," McDonald said.
It's also a big win for taxpayers. One chronically homeless person can cost $40,000 a year. 
"Folks on the street tend to be high consumers of public services. Their health declines when they're on the street so they have more emergency room visits. They may even get arrested for minor quality of life crimes,” McDonald said.
Tonight "Red" will sleep on a bed for the first time in a long time thanks to a police officer who wouldn't take “no” for an answer.
"Now he is one good friend," Bodiford said of McDonald. "He's more than a friend."