03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Joseph Mungin, Father Of Five, Finally Has A Couch

The New York Times' Neediest Cases series sheds light on those struggling financially. Though many of these stories are of those affected by the recession, the Mungin family, featured on Tuesday, started having problems long before the current banking crisis.

Joseph Mungin, father of five, was stationed in the U.S. Army in Germany. He was honorably discharged in 2000 and learned he had a kidney ailment. He talked with his wife, a German citizen, about moving to America to seek treatment and raise their children. She agreed, and Joseph and his five children moved to New York while his wife waited for a visa. Though she planned trips to New York several times, she never showed up, and Mungin finally received a letter last year asking for a divorce.

Though a veteran with children, there was no housing available in New York and, after living with his parents for several months, Joseph was forced to move his family into a homeless shelter. He received a kidney transplant in 2005 and was finally able to move his family into a Section 8 apartment in Harlem in 2008.

From The New York Times:

Initially unable to afford furniture, the family slept on the floor for the first week, then on inflatable mattresses. Mr. Mungin was able to buy beds for his children, one by one, until he alone remained on a mattress on the living room floor.

Learning of his situation, a caseworker connected to Opportunity NYC and Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, one of the seven agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, stepped in. Drawing on $500 in Neediest Cases money, she gave Mr. Mungin a voucher to buy a sofa at Jennifer Convertibles.

He chose the Simon model with dual reclining ends. Color: chocolate brown. And then he threw out the last inflatable mattress.

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