AN IRISH-AMERICAN millionaire has been living with a homeless married couple for over a year after opening the doors of his $4 million California mansion to the pair.
Property developer Terry McGrath offered former security guard Greg Dunston and his wife, ex-nurse assistant Marie McKinzie, a place to stay after reading about their plight in the San Francisco Chronicle back in January 2019.
The couple had fallen on hard times after Dunston was injured on the job and McKinzie began to suffer health problems of her own.
Reading the report by journalist Otis Taylor, McGrath was inspired to get in touch with the couple and offer them a space in his hilltop mansion in the idyllic Piedmont semi-suburban area of California.
“The thing that struck me and got me right away was the love between Greg and Marie and how it was able to survive in probably one of the harshest environments on earth,' McGrath explained to ABC Nightline [via the Daily Mail].
McGrath was determined to help and wasted little time in moving the couple in last February.
For him, it was about changing attitudes to homelessness.
“Our natural tendency is to move away from that kind of pain,” he said.
“That's why we avert our eyes. That's why they just become part of the background, part of the wallpaper and it's easier to just move past it.”
It’s proving a slow process though with McGrath admitting to ABC Nightline that several fellow neighbours have got in touch to “warn him” about strangers on his property.
“I got a call at 9:30 at night on my cell phone -- I thought she was calling about organising the neighbourhood summer block party,” McGrath recalled.
“I realised when she mentioned the word 'situation' that she was referencing Marie and Greg. And I said, 'What situation?' Are they vandalising cars? Are they burglarising homes?''
“I just said, 'This is one of the most offensive conversations I've ever had.',” he added.
However, after more than a year together things are starting to change for the better with Dunston and McKinzie welcome to stay at McGrath’s home for as long as they need to.
“They're like family. There's no way I'm going to let them go back to the street,” he said.
“Most people who know me well know it's easy to start and it's hard to finish. And I'm never not going to finish.”