I’m sure that some people reading this blog will not quite understand it’s purpose, or why I write in the manner and style that I do. So, I think now would be a good time to recap my experiences with homelessness. Although this post is much longer than my other writings, it is still just a brief summary of my homeless experiences. I’m leaving a lot of details out, for the sake of not completely boring you to death.
As a young man entering my teens, I started experiencing problems with life. I tried running away from home, I attempted suicide. I got in some trouble my first year in high school and had to finish out high school at a school farther away from home. Actually it was the only school that would accept me after I’d carried a rifle onto school property.
Instead of trying to understand the issues I was dealing with – depression, social anxiety, what became known later on as Asperger’s Syndrome – my parents and others labeled me as “bad.” And instead of trying to find help for my problems, they instead thought it best to punish me for all the things I had done, of which I had had little or no control over. I was living at home until I turned twenty one years old. As my 21st birthday approached, my father told me that because I would soon be 21, he would no longer be held legally responsible for me, so he wanted me to move out of the house by my birthday. I got a job and an apartment, but things didn’t work out very well. I just did not have the skills necessary to maintain. And within a few short months, I was homeless. That was back in 1982, and I’ve been struggling against homelessness ever since.
My first experience with homelessness lasted about 6 months. I then joined the Navy. I was in the Navy for a little less than 2 years. But I had problems with being in the service, and so I was given an administrative discharge. With no place to go, I went back to living at the rescue mission I’d stayed at during my first homeless experience. There I met someone who showed me how to apply for financial aid for college. I then went to college for a year and a half. But again, I started experiencing problems. I stopped going to classes. My GPA dropped, and so I lost my financial aid. With no where else to go, I went back to living on the streets.
I then met a young lady who helped me get off the streets. We eventually married. I got a job. We had two kids. We bought a house. Had two cars, etc. But after 6 years we divorced. The divorce was devastating and I ended up back on the streets. years past and I eventually got into a halfway house being run by a local church. I got a job. and In a year’s time I moved into my own apartment. After a couple months, the apartment building caught fire, destroying the building, and I was homeless again. Luckily the halfway house took me back in. I saved up enough money to get back into another apartment. I lived in that apartment for a little over a year. But then I was laid off from work. I was eventually evicted my apartment and I ended up homeless yet again.
It used to be that whenever I became homeless, a certain kind of panic fell over me and I struggle to get off the streets by any means I could. But now, after years and years of falling back into homelessness, I’d given up the desire to get off the streets. At this point in my life I’d pretty much accepted as fact that I’d always be homeless. I was homeless for several more years. I spent most of my time staying at local shelters, but I also occasionally slept outside, in alleys, in and around abandoned buildings, I had owned a few cars in my time, one of which I lived in for over a year while it was parked on the side of the road.
Eventually a volunteer at a shelter encouraged me to apply for help with housing with a new program available to the homeless. After a year of working on it, I eventually was accepted to the place in which I am now living.
My first experience with homelessness was back in 1982. That was almost 30 years ago. Half of that time, I lived in literal homelessness. Much of the rest of the time I was living in a grey area between homelessness and having a home. When you live in a halfway house, you are not technically homeless, but you aren’t really in a home of your own either. So you are still homeless, just living in someone else’s home, temporarily. I have couch surfed, living with people i knew for short periods of time, been in halfway houses, have rented out cheap motel rooms, etc.
I have experienced a lot in my homelessness experiences. I have seen a lot of violence, I have avoided a lot of violence that was directed at me. Luckily I’ve never been in a fight, or even punched on the streets, although a few times someone or other would pull a knife on me, I was never hurt.
I have seen other people get hurt, have seen a a few fights, a few stabbings, a lot of arguments. I’ve known people who have died, some from addictions, some from just giving up on life, some were murdered.
I have also experienced some near miraculous changes in people’s lives, where it seemed certain that their lives would end tragically on the streets, but instead their lives turned around, they got off the streets and lived the rest of their lives happily. Yes, recovering from homelessness does happen. As a matter of fact, an overwhelming majority of homeless people will eventually get off the streets and so return to living ordinary lives.
Sometimes people will question my opinions and other statements about homelessness. They should know that I am drawing on a life time of experience with homelessness. And I don’t come at the subject lightly. I have always believed in the idea that “the truth will set you free,” so I keep myself focused on looking for the truth, wherever that leads. And although sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes people don’t want to hear it, I always speak the truth as I know it to be. i believe that the key to ending homelessness is in pursuing the truth.