DESCRIPTIONS OF PLACES TO STAY WHILE HOMELESS: SHELTERS
Date: Fall, 2000
Site: Homeward Bound (Racine)
Demographics: European American/f/25-30
. . . I stayed with my aunt for awhile and it just didn’t work out there, so I went to stay with friends, and then that didn’t work out with her and so then I went to live in the church and that’s when I decided to come stay in the shelter. . . It’s very degrading. You know my point of view is we’re homeless, we’re dirt. You know, we have nothing. We have no control over our kids; we have no control over nothing, over circumstances. We have basically taken all our responsibility taken away from us. To me, I have a history of being depressed. Everything is just so chaotic. The different cultures and stuff around here. I just don’t like it. I guess I say I’m not racial, but living amongst a household of African Americans, being the only white beside some staff, I just feel singled out. It’s very, it’s very hard. Different ways of doing things. I don’t believe in all this, you know—loud music and the profanity. Some of the music is sexual. I just don’t fit in. . .
PLACES TO STAY WHILE HOMELESS: OUTSIDE
Date: Summer, 2000
Site: St. Ben’s
Demographics: European American/m/50-60
I did have jobs at one time and I lost my job. I got involved with a drug addict and an alcoholic. I got careless. I started listening to some lies and broken promises.
In 1998, I became homeless. It was pretty dreary. I go and eat at St. James, go to the library, stay there until suppertime, then go to eat at Ben’s. I have a tent hidden in a grove of trees near some railroad tracks. I’ve been homeless better than a year.
[PROMPT WHEN PERSON STOPPED TALKING: TELL ME ABOUT PEOPLE YOU MEET WHEN YOU ARE HOMELESS.] I’m not one to go around with people like myself. I would never stay at the Mission again. Sometimes I walk the streets when I’m homeless. Sometimes I go down to the mall, sometimes I just walk aimlessly, and I keep pretty much to myself. I avoid people as much as possible. I’ve never had a family, not ever. I am from Chicago originally. I was born there. I came here in 1969. I became homeless in 1998. I worked on and off different kind of jobs most of my life.
[WILL YOU BE GETTING ANOTHER JOB?] I don’t know if I will stop being homeless. I have no idea yet. I was living with my dad in TN and we got into a fight and he kicked me out. He said I stole his wallet but I didn’t. I’ve been homeless for 2 months at the Guest House. They want me to go to school for some kind of training. They told me that to stay there I had to be in their program. So that’s what I’m doing now. I’m going through their program. They want you to go to school. If you didn’t graduate from high school. I didn’t graduate. I dropped out in the 11th grade. I want to finish and then go back to TN. I don’t want to be here for the winter. If I can find me a job I’ll stay or go back to TN. Guest House is a nice place. They give me a place to sleep. I don’t have to sleep in the park. [DID YOU SLEEP IN THE PARK BEFORE?] I did. A friend of mine I used to see at the park told me about the Guest House, but you had to get a number. I got number 15 and got in. I’ll be in until I go through the program. I was at the Mission but I didn’t like it. Some real mean people there and they steal your stuff. And the people who run the mission won’t do anything about it. I had a nice jacket and I asked the guy to give me another jacket and he would only give me a winter coat. He wouldn’t give me a jacket so I left and slept in back of the courthouse for a few nights. There were a lot of people there—back where the trees and flowers are. After that I got into the Guest house.
DESCRIPTIONS OF PLACES TO STAY WHILE HOMELESS: TEMPORARILY WITH FRIENDS/RELATIVES
Date: Spring, 2000
Site: St. Ben’s
Demographics: African American/m/50-60
Before I was homeless, I was in Chicago where my parents’ at. I were working. I had to leave Chicago and I traveled to Detroit, MI. I was first homeless in Detroit MI. In Chicago I was working in a hospital doing dishwashing. I went to Detroit and went on the streets for about two years. I panhandled on the streets. I was drinking a lot. I got the money from panhandling. I got general assistance, public aid for about two years. I left Detroit. I got sick and was hearing voices.
When I left Detroit I went to Atlanta GA and got a job. I started hearing voices and went back to Chicago. I stayed with my parents but couldn’t get along too well because of the voices.
I went to Washington DC by bus and I got homeless there. I went to a restaurant and ordered a meal. They locked me up because I didn’t have money to pay for it. They put me in a mental institution for about two years. They gave me a job helping in the bakery.
I went back to Chicago…They sent me back to Chicago really. I stayed there for a little while and then came here.
I got homeless when I came here too. I stayed in a vacant apartment building and vacant houses. I stayed at the Rescue Mission too. Then they put me in the hospital again. And then I got SSI. I got me a apartment and everything now and started taking care of myself. Right now I work part time about a year, work for a restaurant [fast food].
I got on drugs when I was homeless. Just when I was homeless. Got the money from my SSI. Don’t use drugs other than that. I got to go to work now. When I took drugs in 98 or 97 and then I slowed down. Now I will go back to school to become a cook. MATC. I will start in the fall. 4 credit hours. Half of a day. I want a good paying job and get off of SSI. I live on 60th and Keefe. I pay low income for the apartment. It’s nice.
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