- Politics and Social Issues»
- Social Issues
A Homeless Story
Everyone Has A Story
Hello! Welcome to my Hubpage. My name is Chris. I am 47 years old, a former Business Owner, Freelance Graphic Designer, Security Officer/Public Safety Officer, and, despite being employed for many years, I have endured homelessness, off and on since 2001.
Since my homeless journey, I have heard many many stories on why some are homeless. Everyone has a story....here's mine....
My Dad told me one day, that if I"m not afraid of hard work and getting my hands dirty, no matter how little the wages are, I will always have money to put food on the table and be able to pay the bills. My dad never missed a day of work, and even worked around the house on his days off. My dad was never without work.
I was a very sheltered child, who would become a very sheltered adult. My mom would never let me make my own decisions, because in her opinion, I was still a child and will always remain a child. She always told me that I would never be able to make the right decisions in life.
Mom told me numerous times that "still waters run deep". I never knew what she meant by that, and still I am not quite certain of the meaning. I don't know if it's good or bad, but every time she said it, was when we were arguing...which we did often! One day, I heard the term in a movie, The Uninvited. I came to the conclusion that mom meant that instead of being kind, innocent, and sweet, I was really mean and evil. Mom also told me many times, that should I become homeless, I would never survive!
Years ago, when I was about 9 years old, my mom told me that my brother left home as soon as he turned eighteen. She looked at me and asked me.. .."You're never going to leave me, are you?" Of course, I told her that I wouldn't! Needless to say - I never did! I had no idea, that years later, I would realize how stupid I was, for not using my own mind, for not speaking up and telling my mom that I can make decisions, even if I make mistakes. As a result, I lost out on many opportunities. Yet to this day, the way my life turned out, I don't blame my mom, or anyone, for I had a brain that I should have used, and that's nobodies fault but mine!
See, My mother was not a bad person. She may have had mental issues from growing up in Germany, in WWII, during the Nazi regime. She, like many others, was forced to endure many hardships. My mom had taught me many things in life that I will always adhere to. She was always ready and willing to help me with my homework when I came home from school. Because of her help, I was very good at spelling, and writing essays. Every time she helped me when an essay was due, I received an A+! Too bad she could never help me with my math. Boy I really sucked at math! My mom taught me table manners, how to walk and never drag my feet. She taught me to use good vocabulary, and to respect my elders...the list goes on.
My parents made a big mistake though, they never prompted me to get good grades in school. When I graduated, they never told me I had to find a job, or go to college. My Mom wanted me home, she did not want me to leave because as she told me many times through the years, she did not want to be left alone. My mistake was that I let my Mom rule my life.
I asked my dad one day, why people are homeless. His response was because they are lazy. Naturally, I grew up thinking the same way. In a way, I found out years later, that my dad was right....to a point.
My dad always worked. He always found ways to make extra income. His only goal was to make certain his family was comfortable. His family was very important to him, including our pets. I regret to this day, the many times I ridiculed him, the many times I said things, mean things, that hurt his feelings, and I could see the hurt in his eyes!
While driving in my cadillac through town one day in particular, I can recall when I saw a homeless person pushing a shopping cart on the sidewalk, I shook my head, and told myself that I will never let myself get like that.
I can also recall many times when I would yell at someone holding a sign, begging, telling them to get a job! My dad always told me that there is always work for someone who wants to work!
Despite all my bad behavior towards some of the homeless, I did a few times, buy something to eat for them. They thanked me and showed sincere gratitude! I guess that my christian upbrining sometimes kicked in.
When I was very young, I can recall playing with cars, and imagining which car I would use, in the event of an emergency should I become homeless. When I made myself a tent, or a fortress, I would imagine how I would set up my homeless shelter! Little did I know, that years later, I would actually have to find a place to sleep.
When my mom and dad argued, usually over his inabillity, or unwillingness to quit smoking, my mom would tell my dad that I would end up homeless. The argument was over life insurance. Most life insurance companies will not cover you if you are a smoker. Little did I know, that mom's prediction would come true!
My dad, as far back and I can remember, despite looking so harsh and stern behind his black framed military issue glasses, and his rough hands with bent fingers that would not become straight from such hard work, was always a very humble and kind man. He would never dream of hurting an animal for sport, but only if it meant his family needed to be fed.
When I was about 4 years old, my dad was a police officer, then later the Chief of Police, and I will always remember him this one particular day....My mom was in the kitchen making dad his lunch, and I was in the living room in front of the television, playing and watching t.v. at the same time, when my dad came home, stood in the doorway in his police uniform, and stretched, what seemed like, all the way to the ceiling. My dad was 5'-10 1/2", but to me he seemed like a giant! To this day I can still smell his Mennen aftershave and the leather on his duty belt.
Dad was as second nature, a military man. He served in the Navy for four years, then entered into the U.S. Army, and served 22 years there. Dad was a very disciplined person. I cannot recall a time where he would choose to sleep in. Morning after morning, like he had some kind of internal alarm clock, woke up at 5 A.M. I don't even think he was ever sick, and if he was, you never heard him say so.
When I walked into his hospital room, I tried my best to cover up the fact that I already knew...knew that he had cancer. As I entered his room, my dear dad had tears in his eyes, because since I already knew, he knew as well. I hugged him and told him it would be alright, and soon he could come home. Dad told me he was sorry for not getting me a birthday present. Yes, we all came to find out on my 28th birthday, that my dad had only a very short time left. I told him all would not be alright, as my dad was given less than six months to live. From the time of his diagnoses, he survived only one month and one week. Now, after being sheltered for 28 years, not having to do anything for myself, was now the head of the household, as my dad told me a day before he passed. My father passed away on August 19, 1993. Now was the beginning of the END!
Not by myself
When my Dad died, I knew that my life would change. I knew that my daily routine would not be easy. For now, I had to deal alone with my Mom, with keeping the household in order, watching our finances, house cleaning, and yard maintenance - the list goes on.
Many times through the years, people from our church who came to visit us, told me that I should get on with my life. They told me I should put my Mom in a home and get on with my life. I found their advice totally shocking...especially coming from "Christians". How could anyone suggest that I dump my Mother and get on with my life? I figured that behavior would be a selfish move, especially after my Mom took such good care of me...with dislocated hips!
Many people told me that taking care of the household and my Mom, would become too hard for me to handle all alone. I thought I was doing pretty good....I thought.
It was Time
The people who told me that my situation would be overwhelming eventually, were right! The living situation with Mom was becoming unlivable. I had no help. I was alone.
I did the best I could. I never got much sleep. Taking care of my Mom, our pets, the maintenance in and out of the house, going to school, and running my auto detailing business, I was totally exhausted by the end of the day. Yet, every night, without fail, Mom would always find a way to wake me up. I never had any peace.
Mom became more difficult. If I was too tired to do the dishes, or take the trash out, she would call the cops! She called my Doctors telling them that I was manic depressive and refused to take my meds. She told everyone that she was afraid of me!
I was investigated for elder abuse, I was investigated for possibly taking my Mom's meds, I was investigated for stealing money from my Mom. I was told by the Sheriff deputies, that if they received one more call about me, that they would take me in. Mental Health told me the same thing. Everybody was telling me what I couldn't do, but no one told me what I could do.
The situation with Mom was becoming out of control. Sooner than later, everything would blow up. It was like a ticking time bomb, and something was about blow. Something eventually did!
I prayed so often, and begged God to help me. I didn't want to do anything wrong, I loved my Mom, and I vowed to never leave her. After my Dad died, Mom needed me more than ever. Yet, it was time, time to change things. It was a drastic change!
From Worse To Worser
Yes the arguments betweet my Mom and me were getting way too bad. I wanted to leave so many times, but suddenly Mom got sick...very sick! She almost died a few times, but the last time, was a very crucial time when I needed her!
We were losing our home, and I couldn't tell Mom, because of the hallucinations she went into, due to complications with diabetes!
Someone had been tapping into my bank account, and no one cared. When my Dad died, Mom and I cut out some bills to ease on spending, like the soft water service, the Sears bill was paid off, and a few other things which I do not recall. After Mom and I figured our finances, our total income, and the bills, we found she would never make the mortgage payment unless I deposit $500 every month into Moms account. I had no problem with making sure the mortgage was paid, but I guess someone decided they needed my money more than me.
I was in shock when I found out that I could not deposit $500 in my Moms account! I got really sick! I talked to the Bank of America manager, and she only told me to file a theft report with the local police department!
To make a really long story shorter, despite everything I did, we lost our home! Everything that my Dad did around the house, it was gone! I went to a lawyer who took my money, then told me he couldn't take my case. I kept getting the run-around. No one wanted to help.
The Mid State Property Management who bought our home at the auction, had made a deal with my Mom (when she got better). They told her that we can stay in our home and pay $450 a month. That lasted for about a year, then as they told us, they had to keep the cash flowing!
Since I had no credit, I had no history of renting, I was unable to secure a stable place to live.
Through my whole ordeal, I developed a heavy drinking problem. That's when I met the person who would become my "friend"!
My Mom told me many times that I did not have a good judge of character. She was so right. But you can't learn to have a judge of one's character if you don't get out and socialize. I would learn the hard way. I was about to experience even more pain than what I had already gone through.
It was through my drinking days, while I was losing my home, that I met the woman who would become my friend. The woman who would take advantage of me, introduce me to meth, and take from me what little I had left. That woman was Patricia Massaro. It was because of her that I ended up literally on the street. I had no place to sleep, no place to stay dry, and no food to eat. I went for days without food. When I did get food, I couldn't eat.
We had decided to move to Arizona. Our plan was to start a business, obtain a large piece of property, get a truck, and start work to earn our first million.
I had just settled from a work injury, and had no way of placing my settlement in a bank account, because I had filed a bankruptcy, so she was the only one I could trust to hold my money for me.
Only things did not quite work out that way. She didn't have the gall to tell me herself, so she left like a coward and had her boyfriend tell me that I had to pack up and leave....at the very moment he told me. I did not have the chance to pack my things, gather my pets, and look for a place. No I had to leave then and there. They tricked me into signing my car to them too. They had everything all worked out. I had important articles in storage too, like pictures of my Dad when he was in the Army and the Police force, my Dad's uniforms, and most importantly...his burial flag! Patricia was no friend, but the epitome of evil! Yes, I have learned to be a judge of character. I have learned my lesson.
I Never Gave Up
Despite everything I went through, in other words, every time I fell I always picked myself back up. Each time I climbed higher. I never gave up trying to find any type of employment. I kept working at everything I possible could. I had the willingness to work, I had many skills, yet all hope of gaining employment was gone. I had finally hit the bottom of the bottom, after Patricia kicked me out. I had nothing to look forward to. That was until I remembered my Mom.
When I was 9 years old, I came home from school one day, and was greeted by my Mom as always, only this day was different. Something was unusual. She was overly happy! She dedicated her life to Jesus. She became Born-Again. I was always ashamed of the Born-Again "thing". Except when I hit rock bottom. I realized that I could not do it on my own. I had already lost everything that mattered, that I loved, that had meaning. I realized that I DO need God in my life. I fell to my knees, my tears were flowing like a water faucet, and at that moment when I cried to God to save me, I experienced something that I cannot explain. Something that was good. It was a presence. I went back to God! It was because the way my Mom raised me, her teachings and reading the Bible with her daily, that I was able to pick myself back up! Now, after all I had lost, after all of my pain, life was now on a better path.
I ended up having to give my two cats, Andy and Boo-Boo to the local Humane Society, and my little dog Shu-shu went to a family member who she was familiar with and loved.
I ended up in a local homeless shelter, and despite how devestated I was that I ended up in a shelter, somehow I knew that I would be able to pick myself back up. I knew that I was about to get myself a job!
My new job
Upon entering the shelter on February 11, 2005, I practically had a job in private security lined up. The pastor of the church where I was going, helped me to find a place for my pets, get my belongings into a storage unit, and contacted an old friend of his. All I had to do was call this old friend of his and set up an appointment. It would be a month until I would be able to start work, as I had to go through a "Live Scan"....background check, fingerprints, and take a test.
Everything worked out and I ended up working for this company for nearly three years!
I wanted to broaden my skills and earn more, so the opportunity arose where I was able to get the training I desired, and eventually became a Public Safety Officer.
I did like my Dad taught me, I worked at everything I possibly could, and kept a job until I found one that paid better. With every job I had I performed my best in hopes that I would get a raise. I was never lazy, and never had any excuses.
The big black fluffy cat
Homeless but not Poor
While in the shelter, I was introduced to a very nice lady. This lady as it turned out was capable of being my Mom's daughter, she is so much like her. Yes, when I say lady, I do mean Lady!
I have had the pleasure to call her my friend. I have lived with her since '05, and together we have overcome many hardships.
The room we ended up renting came with a black fluffy cat, who decided we were going to be her new family. So a little humble famliy we have become. The three of us have lived in the car off and on. The first car was a Ford Escort, so don't ask me how we did it, but we did it quite well. As a matter of fact, my friend could make a home out of a cardboard box! We were quite comfortable. That car became our little home!
The Purpose of This Story
No matter how much I worked, I still could not find a permanent place to live, could not find a ‘home’.
I guess I always had hopes of finding a permanent residence. Since my Dad always worked, his family was never without, so I figured I could do the same. That never happened, yet I cannot say I suffered too much.
So, here is my purpose for writing this story….
Since I have been homeless, I have had contact with many others in my same position. I have learned to see for myself that my Dad’s beliefs were not always true…that people are homeless because they are lazy. I was not lazy yet I remained homeless. I have never had excuses. However, many of the people that I have been around, I can now see why my parents wanted to keep me away from the homeless people, I can see now why society shuns the homeless, and I can see why communities don’t want ‘them’, in their backyards. Yes many people are wrong to think of the homeless in a negative way, after all, how is one to know who is good and who is a lazy bum? Well, if you spend one week among the homeless, you would be able to tell.
There has been a few times where I have read in local papers that San Luis Obispo County is not doing enough for the homeless. So allow me to point out a few things….
San Luis Obispo is said to be one of the homeless friendliest cites in California. Practically on a daily basis, you may see new “arrivals”. They arrive in cars, RVs, bicycles, and on foot.
There are at least two places in SLO that are available to the homeless. There is the Prado Day Center, which is open from 8:30 AM to 4PM unless otherwise noted. Anyone can come in off the street and get a free meal at noon. To gain access to the showers, laundry and other services, all that is required is for one to sign up. The more people sign up, the more funds the center gets. You can have your laundry done in exchange for a chore. There are resources to gain employment, and there is a medical van onsite for those in need of medical attention. If you are tired you can just lay a blanket in the grass area and take a nap. For those who have vehicles, you can feel free to sleep in your car until closing. There is nothing required of you, and there are no time limits on how often you can utilize the day center.
Sounds like heaven for the homeless, right? I wonder if the “Friends” of the day center, those who keep it running, would think if they spent one week at the center to observe the activities of the clients.
Recall I said there are no requirements? No time limits? You can visit the center day after day, year after year, and just lay around. Who needs a job when you can just lie around? There are resources for those who may seek employment, and there is a computer which is specifically for use in job searching, instead, the clients play games on the other computers. I have yet to see someone use that computer to find employment.
I have overheard many conversations among the clients, and out of all those conversations, I have heard nothing but excuses! Here is a list of some of the award winning crap I have heard….
· “I don’t want to take the first job I can get when I could be making more someplace else”.
· “If this job requires random drug testing, then forget it! I aint gonna give up my pot for some stupid job”.
· “I don’t want to work for someone unless I can make millions”.
· “I refuse to pay rent to some landlord to get rich off of me, I’d rather sleep in the bushes”.
· “I refuse to take a job that’s beneath me”.
· “I can’t work because I can’t take orders, because I am bi-polar”.
Yes, these are actual statements that I have heard.
So these clients of the day center are never required to do anything!
How to Survive
It makes me quite sad when I see on the news that some family man killed his whole family, then himself because he lost his job, because his wife lost her job. They know they will no longer be able to live the lifestyle they are accustomed to. Little do they know that being homeless is basically not being able to have all the conveniences of a home, yet all hope is not lost. Just because you lose everything, does not mean you can't pick yourself backup. Suicide is not the answer. If you fall, what do you normally do? You pick yourself back up!
So, it is my desire to educate those who may become homeless, or, who are already there.
I will add tips for living on the street. Tips that will make your life easier.
So give up your pot, you don't need medical marijuana unless you are dying, you don't need to bum around all day playing games on your computer, instead, start making money with it. With today's technology, its very simple to earn at least a little cash.
So, stick with me and I'll show you how to trun your life around.
I won't lie, and I certainly will not tell you that the suggestions I will list here will be THE answer. I can't guarantee that if you are homeless my suggestions are the ticket out of poverty, no one can guarantee that. I know that though I was employed and running my own business, I still ended up on the street, and, I remained employed throughout my entire homeless dilemma. Yet, there are a couple things I did have...1. I was earning my keep in this life, and with that I had a sense of pride that I was earning my paycheck. 2. I almost always had enough money for food and gas.
When living on the street, whether it's in some bush or in a car, you cannot buy your food for the month, therefore, it's difficult to stock up. You can't refridgerate any, and you certainly can't carry all of it around. When you live out of your car, you have to keep moving so as to keep the police at bay, meaning you burn more gas daily than someone who has a home. When people used to ask my friend what she did with all her money, they failed to realize that there were two people living in a car, and only one of us had an income. This was after my car accident, and long before I got my disability. That's what we got asking for assistance...NADA!
Yet, we just continued to learn as the days went by, and with every new thing we learned, our situation became much easier.
Now when I originally compiled my list, I was able-bodied. Before my accident, there wasn't a thing I couldn't do. It's really hard working third shift, and trying to sleep during the day when you don't have a home, but still, there wasn't a thing I couldn't do. So, now, my list has been modified for those who have physical disabilities, as well as those who are able-bodied.
Here is a list of things you may need if you know you are going to be homeless...
1. Travel light. Pack only the clothes you know you will need. Maybe only 3 of each....t-shirts, underwear, pants, long-sleeve shirts, and a jacket or coat for cold weather. Don't forget the rain gear.
2. Personal hygiene items. toothbrush, toothpaste, deoderant, bar soap, etc. Bathtowels, washclothes, and a pair of flip-flops, in case there is a place where you can shower. If you can't shower, there's something we discovered that works excellent.....baby wipes soaked in rubbing alcohol. Of course you can't clean in "vulnerable" areas, but the alcohol adds an astringent like cleaning, it basically lifts any dirt right off! If you have a cat, be sure to take the litter box. And if for some reason your cat has an accident...rubbing alcohol not only cleans, but makes all smells dissapear.
3. Bottled water. Water for yourself and pets if any.
4. If you have experience camping, you're even better off. You'll also most likely have everything you need. If not, head over to your local Big 5 or other sporting goods store and buy a camping dishware set. All the pieces fit together to save space. And believe me, you will need all the space you can get! Take only the dishes you will need, and if you have pets, be sure to take theirs.
5. Sleeping bags. It can get pretty cold during the winter months. It's really uncomfortable to sleep in freezing temperatures with just blankets.
6. Stock up on batteries and flashlights. No one wants to go to sleep as soon as the sun goes down.
7. A portable DVD player. You may already have a computer, but it's much easier on your car's battery to charge up the DVD player instead. A DVD player makes time on the street much easier. You'll only want to charge up the computer while driving. You'll be surprised how many of the homeless with vehicles wake up to a dead battery, and most homeless will only help those in their "crowd". Remember, been there done that.
Hasseled In SLO
On August 9, 2012, a group of homeless calling themselves the Homeless Alliance filed a lawsuit against the city of San Luis Obispo, CA, for receiving citations for "illegal camping", a fine which ran many of the homeless aout $450, stating that the citations were unconstitutional, and that they were being targeted by the police because they are homeless. On August 9 they won the case, and all those who were issued the citations were dismissed, all those who paid will be reimbursed.
After the group won the court case, the city council members had to think of a way to rid the town of homeless, so beginning October 31, they will begin posting up signs No Parking between 10PM - 6AM.
After a council meeting on October 2, the police was given the go ahead to harass the homeless who are sleeping in their vehicles. Even those who are not sleeping in vehicles. Yes, I know from a source, that the city council prompted the local police to being running all the homeless out of town!
The following video was made after I had a nightmare of an encounter with the police. The video is in two parts because I was interrupted while recording. Please watch my video describing the incident I encountered.
Hitting The Fan
The incident that occurred on Oct. 2, began to make headlines in local papers and a website. The issue has begun an argument with comments that some people have made. I will add more as more is happening.
The best thing about this whole ordeal is that I wasn't even in a car when they arrived. The officer who yelled at me with such anger, I later found out that according to the police chief, "is one of their "best" and "friendliest" officers. I'd sure hate to run into their worst!
SLO Police Hassle The Homeless
- SLO police again accused of hassling the homeless
Matt Strzepek EDITOR?S NOTE: See San Luis Obispo City Council candidate Matt Strzepec?s accounting of alleged police harassment of the homeless at the
The Outright Hatred
I have observed for quite sometime now, the outright hatred much of society has for the homeless. I have seen for myself why so many in society have such a blodd-curdling hatred towards the homeless, and have seen by the remarks on the calcoastnews.com website, that many of them believe that ALL homeless are thieves, vandals, drunks, druggies, and lazy bums who collect government handout. It's ok for these people to accuse someone they don't know of being one of those homeless who receive handouts. It is quite amazing to me how human beings in this world can have such hate.
The reason for the hatred is the result of many of the homeless in San Luis Obispo, as it is one thing to be homeless, and another to place all your belongings on a sidewalk, your chairs, sit and drink beer with your whole clan, right in the path of those who work, who must walk around them, when it should be the other way around! Certainly the homeless are just as good as everyone else, that is not my point. If you come from a good upbringing, then only you will understand what I am trying to say.
San Luis Obispo Homeless
Many of my stories are sort of linked together...The DIY Auto Repair hub, For Evil Gain, and of course this one.
Basically, here's what happened...
We had been homeless off and on since 2006, though I remained employed until 2008 after a near - fatal car accident. On my day's off we headed to the hotel for 3 days at first, then for most of the month. We hardly ever stayed in the car anymore except for maybe three or four days out of the whole month.
A friend of ours told us of a house for rent in Bakersfield, with cheap rent. We had made plans to move, but our plans changed.
In September of 2012, the cylinder heads on the car failed, and because we were now stuck, and this car was our only source of transportation, we were stuck yet again on the street. At least we were in an area we were familiar with, and right across the street from the machine shop that we needed, that would do the work on the cylinder heads for us. This machine shop was owned by our friend's son, and our friend Dave also operated a business in the same complex.
To save us money, I had to take the engine components out myself, and in my condition from the car accident, it would take weeks.
The street we slept on previously, and were now stranded on, is a street that is frequented by the homeless, as there is the shelter around the corner. It is also a street that is frequented by the city police. Being that 2012 began with the police harassing the homeless in an effort to drive them out of the city, we were not stranded in a safe place. So on October 2, 2012, we were horribly verbally harassed by two of San Luis Obispo's "finest". The story became big news in the city, and of course many citizens believed, but most didn't.
As a result of that incident, and the work to be done on the car, our friend Dave told us it would be a good idea for him to tow the car in his garage so he can do what he needs, a job that required the use of an air hose. We ended up renting the back part of his garage for $600 for six months. As a result of the garage, I wrote the hub For Evil Gain.
Anyone and everyone that can take advantage of someone who is down, will.
We are no longer homeless, and we no longer have to spend all of our money on hotel rooms. We eventually were able to proceed with our plan to move, to Bakersfield of all places.
It's not a big place, but it's big enough for us, nor is it in the best of neighborhoods, but that's nothing new, besides, we are located away from the main street, and spend most of our time indoors. The rent is paid, the bills are paid, we have cable T.V., phone and internet, and our new home looks very nice and very cozy on the inside. Perhaps now I can start the business that I had trained for before getting into security, graphic design.
Is this the beginning of a new chapter?