Cheri’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018

Cheri, a member of Diverse Organization Providing Education and Regional Services (DOPERS) in Surrey shares her homeless experiences during an interview for Homelessness Action Week

Oct. 7-13 is Homelessness Action Week in British Columbia

Please scroll down to read full transcript of the video!



Nancy – Hi! I’m Nancy. I’m with Diverse Organization Providing Education + Regional Services. We’re here with some of our friends asking questions for the Homelessness Action Week…we want their stories

Nancy –  What’s your Name?

Cheri – My name is Cheri

Nancy – Do you have a nickname?

Cheri – CherBear

Nancy – How old are you?

Cheri – 44

Nancy – Where’s your hometown?

Cheri –  from Surrey

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Cheri – In Surrey

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Cheri – Currently no, but a few months ago I was.

Nancy – How did that start?

Cheri – The City coming in and shutting down our house…telling us..”Oh Well…Sorry!”…basically throwing us on the street overnight.

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Cheri – First time I was homeless, it was for 5 years.

Nancy – Tell us about your journey?

Cheri – The first time I was homeless, I eventually lost everything…I lost my husband at the time…I lost my home…everything

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Cheri – You can’t get a break to save your life in terms of the cost of housing is just outrageous and there’s nothing available to rent….and if you’re homeless…you’ve pretty much got this stigma attached that you’re a horrible person…any place you do go look at…you can tell by the look on their face as soon as they open the door . they’re not going to give you a chance.

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Cheri – It’s extremely hard…I mean especially as a woman…it’s even harder…there’s the normal risks of being alone out there..even if you are with a partner. You have to worry about people taking action against you…I’ve had people chase me…I got stabbed last summer by some guy who tried to rob me….it’s a scary place…and then you have to deal with bylaws and the cops…it’s a very very hard situation because they don’t care what you have to say or what your situation is…they consider you all the same…you’re not judged as a person as an individual person…they judge you as a group

Nancy – Where do you live now?

Cheri – I’m staying in a rooming house

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Cheri – I’m more worried about my safety with strangers…like I said last summer…some guy tried to rob me and stab me…that’s a scary place to be especially for a woman.

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Cheri – Yeah I do have family but I don’t speak with them.

Nancy – How would you describe your feelings about being homeless?

Cheri – It’s’s a constant struggle.. It’s nerve wracking. It’s frustrating and some day it’s hopeless.

Nancy – How do you do you make money? How do you come up with money to feed yourself?

Cheri – I would go out binning or go pick bottles…it was hard.

Nancy – What do you do to get by?

Cheri – Now I work..have a job…but before…it was whatever to make money.

Nancy – Does sleeping where you are and the way you do make it hard to keep a job?

Cheri – When you don’t have a way of showering everyday…you don’t have electricity to run an alarm clock…it’s really really hard to keep a schedule…to even keep a job when you are completely homeless.. It’s hard

Nancy – Did Social Services help you find a place to live?

Cheri – No,I had to look for it myself

Nancy – What do you look forward to each day?

Cheri – Hot shower everyday

Nancy – What keeps you going?

Cheri – My kids

Nancy – What is the hardest part of living in an tent?

Cheri – Not knowing whether if we were able to keep our thing…not knowing whether or not Bylaw was going to take everything from us or other people would come and steal from us

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding shelter,  finding a house?

Cheri – People judging…it always seems there is a stigma attached everywhere I go….you go near a bin, automatically you are a homeless person and they start to be rude. A lot of people are very very rude.

Nancy – What is the most challenging part of the day?

Cheri – Just getting through it

Nancy – What was it like in the homeless camp?

Cheri – It was hard…most of the time that we were down there, it was during the winter time and the rainy was very difficult to even stay warm.

Nancy – Was it safer?

Cheri – Yeah I think it was in our camp…we had friends that were close enough by..if we needed help…they were close enough by.

Nancy – Are you connected with other homeless people in this area?

Cheri – Most people that I knew that were homeless, they did get into modulars but there are still a lot of people out there…and it’s hard…it’s a difficult place to be.

Nancy – Do you feel there is a sense of community among the homeless ?

Cheri – I don’t think so …as much right now…as there was before…because there was sense of we all trying to survive…there was more of a sense that you felt could walk down the street and knew you were safe because there were people who were going to watch..if anything happened they would step up. Now everybody is so scattered…the feeling of family and community is gone

Nancy – Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody else knows?

Cheri – I’m terrified of being alone.

Nancy – What’s the worst perception people have of the homeless?

Cheri – That we’re all bad people…that we’re all criminals…drug addicts

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Cheri – Being able to relax

Nancy – What needs to be done for the homeless?

Cheri – There needs to be more housing…more funding or something   . something needs to be done…so they can feel a sense of hope…there is no hope out there

Nancy – What about programs?

Cheri – All the resources that were avail have been taken away..the dinners at the Front Room…The Front Room…that was a place people could go and sit and relax and be able to breathe for a few minutes…they knew there was a meal there everyday at dinner time and they knew that they could connect with orher people and they could also connect with a housing worker …whatever they needed, they could get there. They don’t have that anymore.

Nancy – What would have changed your life?

Cheri – It’s hard to say

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Cheri – Pople to be more understanding about where we’re coming from

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Cheri – speed

Nancy – How do you manage that? What does it do for you?

Cheri – It keeps me going…it keeps me awake and it’s hard

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day?

Cheri – Right now, going home and being able to cook a meal in my kitchen

Nancy –  Stressful situations that you encounter on a daily basis?

Cheri – My landlord is in the hospital…we don’t know if he is going to make it, so we don’t know if our housing is secure or for how long…I could very well end up homeless

Nancy – How do you keep healthy?

Cheri – I try to properly and eat proper amounts of food…go bike riding…I do a lot of walking…and I take vitamins.

Nancy – How do you keep safe?

Cheri – I carry a weapon ever since last’s the only way to feel safe.

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Cheri – I try to stay true to myself and to my moral standard that I grew up with

Nancy – What is the best part of your day?

Cheri – Being able to go home

Nancy – Do people really want to solve the homelessness issue?

Cheri – Sometimes I wonder about politicans and their promises and all this stuff…never coming through with it…with what they say they are going to do but I mean…there are some people I think that they do want it to end.

Nancy – What does the future look like? What are your hopes and wishes for you?

Cheri – That I’m able to keep housing and go day by day
Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Cheri – I’m a peer support worker

Nancy – Do you have any kids?

Cheri – Yes I have two

Nancy –  One sentence to sum up your current situation?

Cheri – Struggling

Nancy – If you could tell your story to Premier Horgan or Prime Minister Trudeau, what would you say?

Cheri – Something needs to be done now, not tomorrow

Nancy – Final thoughts? What do you wish to see happen?

Cheri – Need more housing available because that is the biggest obstacle right now..there’s not enough…there’s not enough available…not enough places for people to rent

Nancy – Thank you very much for sharing your story with us. I really appreciate.

%d bloggers like this: