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Unlikely roommates win trust over time to become genuine friends

Gabriel Spitzer
Ivan Dempsey and David Trainer


David Trainer was helping out at an encampment for homeless people when he first met Ivan Dempsey. Ivan had a dog. David had a dog. It was cold: David offered gloves, and Ivan accepted hand warmers. They had a friendly interaction, though nothing out of the ordinary. 


On the way back home, out of nowhere, David had a thought: “What would it be like to have Ivan move in with me?” he said. “I know that’s crazy talk. I don’t know the guy, he’s a stranger.” 


David pushed the thought away. But he continued to volunteer at Camp United We Stand, and would visit Ivan and his dog, Tippy. At one point, David asked how long it had been since Ivan was able to get a shower. The answer was about five months. 


So David extended the invitation: Would Ivan consider moving into David’s Shoreline home? 


“Am I going to accept the help?” Ivan remembers asking himself. “Because (I) have trust issues. Well, I sat there all night, and I was like, well, you know what? I’m in a tent, and I’m frozen. And I said, ‘screw it, time to get into a house.’” 


So the two men became roommates, and then genuine friends. There were setbacks: after one of those, where David and Ivan essentially didn’t exchange a word for six weeks, David seriously questioned whether suggesting this roommate thing was a naive idea in the first place. 


But there was still at least one twist left in their story. The two sat down in Ivcan’s kitchen to share the tale — listen above to hear it in their words.