There are many reasons for a person to be homeless in America. For some it’s financial, they overextended and got caught in the bill trap. For others it can be alcohol or drugs. For some it’s due to mental problems and for others they didn’t like what was going on in their home so they simply ran away and were never able to get off the street.
My story was bills and drugs. After my mom died and my father moved back into the house with his new wife, I felt as if I was the third wheel. By this time I had already been in the Army and had some dozen or so jobs. I was 23 years old and I wasn’t interested in going to college so when the locks were changed and I officially was evicted I was left with nowhere to go in Tampa. My family had said enough is enough and they weren’t going to help. My friends were either in college or starting new families so that wasn’t an option.
I was homeless and didn’t have a clue as to what to do next. I had a motorcycle, it would have been better if I had a car but I didn’t. I stayed the night by hiding out in Picnic Island Park. The guard had come through the park and made sure that everyone was out, but he missed a few. That night I ran into three other people who were hiding out in the park. I found out about one of them when I woke to find him trying to steal my bike. I was able to cut him on the leg and he went down screaming. He was able to limp off and I was scared to death. A little later two other men had come upon me and we were able to talk about why we were here. I learned a lot in those couple of hours.
They had brought up plasma centers to get cash. I had sold plasma before so the centers would think I still had an address. I was able to pick up some money that way. It wasn’t enough to rent a room, but I had found a place in the park that I could use for a time.
I still went looking for work but it was a down economic time and jobs were few and scarce. I didn’t try to contact anyone I knew because I was somewhat ashamed of everything that had taken place. I mean living on the streets who would have ever thought.
I was able to wash up in sinks and could stay relatively clean. I also was able to meet some interesting people. Some that were down right scary but when they were coherent you could pick up pieces of information. I found out about a place where I could get a hot meal without spending any money. The money I was able to pick up went to gas and toiletries. Look I was homeless I wasn’t destitute. I wasn’t going to be the dirty bum who wouldn’t bother to take a bath. What’s funny was that when I ran into some people I knew from before they never had a clue as to what was going on.
I was lucky I only spent a short time without a home. My family finally came around and let me stay in an apartment that my grandmother had and wasn’t using. I would have a job a short time later and I never looked back.
There are those out there who have been on the streets for decades and they like it. There are those who the system has forgotten about and they are out there just walking around in a daze, lost and confused. The longer you stay on the street the worse it gets. What is simply wrong though is to see former military walking the streets because their benefits aren’t worth a damn. This is something that surly needs to be addressed. For men and women who have sacrificed so much for their country and their country turns their back on them, this is wrong.
This is my brief story but what about the hundreds of thousands who every day do not have a home. What can we do about them or do we just forget about them. I think as human beings that is not the way to go. We must care for all but for the grace of God there we can be.