Lorretta’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018

Lorretta, a member of Diverse Organization Providing Education and Regional Services (DOPERS) in Langley 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 doing interviews for Homelessness Action Week…we want their stories. We’ve got this lovely lady sitting here today.

Nancy – What’s your name?

Lorretta – Lorretta

Nancy – Do you have a nickname?

Lorretta – Lori

Nancy – How old are you?

Lorretta – 43

Nancy Where is your hometown?

Lorretta – Aldergrove

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Lorretta – Aldergrove

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Lorretta – Yes

Nancy – How did that start?

Lorretta – I was 20 and I ran into the wrong crew…started using drugs and alcohol.

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Lorretta – 20 years..I mean I’ve had apartments…because of involving other people into my life…I lost those so…

Nancy – Tell us about your journey?

Lorretta – Never really stayed in one place…other problems,  drugs, alcohol, abuse, harassment…so I never really actually called any place home but it’s been hard, really, been hard.

Nancy – What did you do before you came here?

Lorretta – I used to work…I used to hold down a job but because I let other people into my life as I stated before…that didn’t last long…so because drugs and alcohol.

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Lorretta – Langley…I’ve been here on the streets quite a bit…it’s tough…it’s really a tough place to be homeless…because if you don’t know the people…then it’s hard to get help. It’s not like Aldergrove where everybody knows everybody…you have had to live here for a long time basically and if you don’t know the people…they don’t trust you….you’re basically on your own.

Nancy – How did you end up living on the streets?

Lorretta – Moving around, Drugs, Alcohol

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Lorretta – It’s really hard. You don’t know how to do it from the get go or if you don’t know homeless people…basically your survival is half of it is reliant on homeless people helping you out…teaching you how to survive and if you don’t know those people…you’re not going to make it.

Nancy – Where do you live right now?

Lorretta – Right now, I am just couch surfing…friends in Aldergrove.

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Lorretta – In Aldergrove, yes…I wouldn’t say so much in Langley.

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Lorretta – Not here but then I call my friends family

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

Lorretta – Stressful…It sucks

Nancy – How do you do you make money? How do you get money to feed yourself?

Lorretta – Borrow if I have to, do odd jobs, bottles

Nancy – What do you do every day to get by?

Lorretta – Think about my son

Nancy – Does sleeping where you are, does it make it hard to keep a job?

Lorretta – Yes because basically you need a home, stable place to even think about getting a job…getting up in the morning…sometimes I find it’s really hard to get up in the morning…because you have to think about showers, clothing…if you have any clean clothes…what are you going to eat.

Nancy – Are you on welfare?

Loretta – Yes, on basic welfare

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

Loretta – No…basically they hand you a paper…you know what? There…go look for a house..go look for a job… Can’t do one without the other. If you don’t have a place…you’re stressed out ..because they want you to be looking for a job…well you know..I don’t think you’re going to get a job if you have dirty clothes…you haven’t had a shower and you haven’t been eating.

Nancy – What do you look forward to each day? What keeps you going?

Lorretta – my friends…just chilling with my friends
Nancy – Have you lived in an tent?

Lorretta – Yes

Nancy – What’s the hardest part about living in  tent?

Lorretta – When it rains…if you have a tarp, is it tied down…is your clothes going to be wet…is your bedding going to be soaked.

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding shelter? Finding housing?

Lorretta – Money…I mean if you don’t have enough money…there’s no way you are going to be able to afford rent, and then on top of that….feed yourself.

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

Lorretta – Going to bed at night…because in the winter…it’s cold…and you have to worry..are you going to be really cold tonight? Is it safe? Do you have certain people that are near enough in case something does happen to you?

Nancy – Have you been in a homeless camp?

Lorretta – I’ve seen them…I’ve had friends that have.

Nancy – Are they safer?

Lorretta – It depends on who you know…if you don’t know…the people …it’s kind of like a group thing…they like to stick together…and if they don’t trust you…or they don’t like you…or you don’t do something that they do…you’re not going to enjoy your stay.

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

Lorretta – Yes I know lots

Nancy – Do you feel there is a sense of community within the homeless population? Do they help each other?

Lorretta – Oh yes… Definitely…definitely because that’s the only way…people are going to survive being homeless…is knowing other people so it’s a give and take…community type

Nancy – Tell us something no one knows about you?

Lorretta – I smile a lot even when I’m really down….but people don’t realize I’m not really happy happy.

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

Lorretta – They’re all drug addicts, they all do the same thing…they deserve to be where they’re at.

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Lorretta – Having a home, stability, having showers and clean clothes…and a place to cook.

Nancy – What needs to be done for the homeless?

Lorretta – Programs…more programs, and housing..I can’t stress enough…housing because with housing you can build strength …the homeless community…it gives them stability to start over…it gives them heart which they need to start their lives over again.

Nancy – What about places to go during the day?

Lorretta – I think they should have a walk in shelter type deal like they have in Kelowna…where you can go in…you can have a shower …you can do your laundry…there’s a place to cook meals if you have your own meal to cook…somewhere they can go and hang out with each other where they are safe.. they’re not getting pushed around…from location to location.

Nancy – What would have changed your life?

Lorretta – Not hanging with the wrong crew.

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Lorretta – Stability

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Lorretta – It used to be crack and then I started onto speed…I’ve been clean for about 10-15 years…Thank you!

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day?

Lorretta – My friends

Nancy – What are some stressful situations that you encounter on a daily basis?

Lorretta – Food, where am I going to sleep…where my stuff is? Where can I put my stuff?

Nancy – Where do you go for food, water, shelter, shower, laundry, bathroom?

Lorretta – I try to rely on myself but if I have to… go to friends.

Nancy – How do you keep healthy?

Lorretta – That’s a hard one…try to drink enough water, taking vitamins, eat healthy which is really hard when you are on the streets.

Nancy – How do you keep safe?

Lorretta – Not to let people know where I sleep at night… Just so that I know that I’m.going to be jumped in the middle of the night while I’m sleeping.

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Lorretta – Respect others and have them respect you.

Nancy – What is the best part of your day?

Lorretta – I guess it would be having moments of solitude, where I get to think and be by myself.

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

Lorretta – The good people that are trying to help…thinking of ways to get shelter for the homeless

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

Lorretta – To have a place, a stable place…a consistent place and to be able to relax…because when you are on the street you don’t get a chance to relax…you’re always having to do something to provide for yourself.

Nancy – Where do you keep your belongings?

Lorretta – Anywhere and Everywhere…certain trusted friends that I know… Stashes…places that I know that people don’t go where I know I can put it.

Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Loretta – That would be dishwashing…I was doing pretty good til drugs and alcohol started affecting the situation.

Nancy – How long ago was it?

Lorretta – 10 years ago

Nancy – When was the last time they slept in a bed, not a shelter?

Lorretta – About 6 -7 months ago

Nancy –  One sentence to sum up your current situation?

Lorretta – It sucks

Nancy – Do you have any kids?

Lorretta – Yes I have two sons…both not with me because of certain situations

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

Lorretta – Pay Attention to the homeless because if you don’t correct it as soon as possible…it’s only going to get worse…it’s time to do it…there’s so many more homeless …there’s lots of elders out there now becoming more homeless and it’s ridiculous.

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