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DALLAS ― On the year s coldest night, Air Force Veteran Monte Hardy tried to help a homeless man drinking behind the Dallas Life Shelter ... the same place Hardy used to hang out when he was homeless.

When I got here, it was pretty scary for me, he said.

Now, Hardy lives in a comfortable Dallas apartment complex around the corner from Amanda Lewis, who served 12 years in the Navy.

She has a wonderful apartment, but surprisingly, she used to be homeless too.

I grew up knowing the right things to do, but at one point in my life, things started spiraling out of control, she said.

Both blame bad choices and substance abuse for their homelessness, and both thank the Housing Crisis Center for pulling them out of it, giving them not just an apartment, but teaching them coping skills and money management so they can become self sufficient.

Chelsea White, the center's development director, said 80 percent of the people who graduate from the program never go back on social services.

It's a small program, with just enough money for 66 veterans, but it s allowing Lewis to complete college and become a social worker.

I'm grateful housing crisis stepped in, Lewis said. I restored my relationship with my sons and my family, and life is wonderful again.

The program is helping Hardy too, but his heart is still with the homeless. Before he left the shelter, he dug in his trunk and found a gift for the man he saw drinking.

Use this blanket, Hardy said to the homeless man.

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