Formerly homeless Nashville man buys house after selling papers for five years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – If you live or work in Davidson County, you probably pass one of the nearly four hundred vendors for “The Contributor” newspaper each day.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

One Nashville man has been a vendor selling the non-profit paper on homelessness for over five years and, during that time, has saved almost every dollar he made.

Mario Martinez hasn’t owned a home in six years. But last week, he closed on a house.

“I’m just so grateful,” Martinez told News 2. “There are so many people who believed in me.”

One of those people is realtor Brian Kemp, who met Martinez on the street corner while he was selling “The Contributor.”

“He didn’t know me but I knew him because of Bear,” said Kemp. Bear is Martinez’s Great Pyrenees.

Mario Martinez with realtor Brian Kemp (Photo: WKRN)
Mario Martinez with realtor Brian Kemp (Photo: WKRN)

“Everybody notices him!” said Martinez. “He’s the one who made the money; I just collected it for him.”

Martinez did collect and save that money until he had enough for a down payment. When he couldn’t find anyone to take his home search seriously, Kemp stepped in.

“Mario helped me restore my faith in the people that are standing out on the street asking for money,” Kemp said. “I won’t look the other way anymore.”

Before last week, Martinez lived in a trailer that sat in an abandoned barn with no water or heat.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

He will move into his 2,500 square foot home on three acres in Charlotte, Tennessee, this weekend.

“Once I get a stove, I’m going to learn how to cook. That’s what I’m gonna do,” Martinez said.

He told News 2 he was laid off from his job six years ago and his home was foreclose on.

“So we fell on hard times, but now those hard times are over,” Martinez said while tearing up. “The kids and I, we’re gonna have a home. I’m so excited. I worked hard for this.”

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

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