When he was 18, Chris Atoki’s mother kicked him out of the house. “Four years ago, I was homeless sleeping in my car, showering at the gym, wondering where my next meal would come from. Today, I’m officially a homeowner!” the young man tweeted.
At the age of 20, Chris Atoki bought his first house. While it may sound like a rather common milestone, for the young man it’s a truly special accomplishment. For 4 years, he had no place to live, surviving on very little money. He almost gave up on life, but then made up his mind to keep trying.
When he was 18, Chris had a difficult schedule for someone so young. He’d get up at 7:00 a.m. every day to attend classes until 3:00 p.m. Then, he’d complete a 12-hour shift at his job. He’d take a nap and go back to school. He needed the money to pay his mother’s rent. Everything was going well until, one day, his manager cut his hours.
Only two weeks later, his employer let him go because he wasn’t working enough hours. “The only job I had was filling trucks and I’m still going to school because that’s what I was taught you had to do to make it. The problem is that with no income and no parental help from my parents, I lost even more,” Chris said in Thread Reader.
Chris couldn’t go to school anymore. Although he applied for hundreds of scholarships, he only managed to get one. And it was still impossible.
Bad times followed. After a fight with his mother, he was kicked out of his home. For a while, he tried to find shelter, but no one would take him in. “I got kicked out in November. I tried to crash on my grandma’s couch, but it didn’t last. I tried to stay with my girlfriend, but her father didn’t like that,” said Chris Atoki.
Eventually, his car became his only shelter. That’s when he realized he had hit rock bottom. “I parked in front of Walmart, with less than a dollar in my account. I think it was like $0.83 or something. No family. No friends. No money. Hungry. I cried and thought about giving up. I just tried to sleep,” Atoki said.
Chris was thinking about ending his life, but when he looked in the rearview mirror, he realized that “the only person I could truly count on was myself.” He’d found something to fight for – himself.
So, he started applying for every job he could think of. “I mean anything. Warehouse, factory, meat packer, wedding DJ assistant, solar panel canvasser (twice), insurance agent, etc., and finally mattress salesman for a company where I had to go to meet clients,” he said.
“I saved enough doing these odd jobs that I was able to put a payment down and get another car. I did this job for a while until driving 400 miles a day started to wear on me. Eventually, I applied to Mattress Firm and got the job,” he continued.
Chris wanted to continue studying and found Lambda School, where he could study online, without a down payment, and with the option to pay back the tuition when he was making a decent salary. The only problem was that Lambda only offered full-time programs and Chris was already working a full-time schedule.
After completing his education at Lambda, Chris became a teaching assistant and wanted to give back. “I wanted to help students achieve the same goals I did and get the same guidance I wanted. I gave my all to each one of them and they know it. All hundreds of them.”
Chris then applied for a tech job in Philadelphia. His salary doubled and he continued to work. His efforts finally paid off: he bought his own house. Against all odds, he’d succeeded. “Four years ago, I was homeless sleeping in my car, showering at the gym, wondering where my next meal would come from. Today, I’m officially a homeowner!” he wrote on his Twitter account.