In the Zilker Studios community room, Johnnie Miller inspects the spread at the Healthy Food Pantry, all free for the taking.
“Tomatoes , strawberries, sourdough breads… things that I can’t afford living on a budget,” said Johnnie. “I’m trying to save money and it’s so hard these days to save money. If somebody don’t want it, I’ll be happy to eat if for you.”
Johnnie was one of the first residents to move into the beautiful seven-story supportive housing community on South Lamar. In total, staff at Zilker Studios will welcome home 110 residents, many of whom have experienced homelessness.
Johnnie is one such resident. The veteran, former horse trainer and truck driver broke his back during a delivery in 2019, which left him unable to work. Then in 2020, the relative he was sharing a duplex apartment with in Georgetown died from COVID-19. Johnnie couldn’t pay the rent alone and after several months of notices, his landlord evicted him. He lived in his car for two weeks in a Walmart parking lot before moving into a motel with help from a church. Johnnie did find a temporary home in a home owned by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the VA also helped him get approved for an apartment at Zilker Studios.
Johnny moved in in late May. He was greeted with a new bed and a Welcome Home Basket that contained kitchen utensils, all of which he needed. “It’s just joy, joy, joy, said Johnnie about his new studio apartment. “Just having your own place where you don’t have to clean up anyone else’s mess.”
Johnnie Miller is thoroughly enjoying his new community. Partially paralyzed from the back injury, he especially likes the exercise room where Program Manager Norman Thompson lets him work out at his own pace. He’s also a regular at Lady Bird Gardens and is looking forward to rafting on the Lake and swimming in Barton Springs Pool.