Stephen’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018

Stephen, a member of Diverse Organization Providing Education and Regional Services (DOPERS) in Surrey shares his 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 asking questions for the Homelessness Action Week, getting stories of some of our friends

Nancy – What’s your name?

Stephen – Stephen

Nancy – Do you have any nicknames?

Stephen – They call me Hippie

Nancy – How old are you?

Stephen – 30

Nancy – Where are you from? Where is your hometown?

Stephen – I grew up in Coquitlam before I became transient

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Stephen – No, not right now….thankfully

Nancy – But you were?

Stephen – I was for 5 years

Nancy – How did that happen?

Stephen – Drugs…I got kicked out of my parents house.

Nancy – Tell us a bit about your journey?

Stephen – When I was first kicked out of the house…I had no idea what I was doing…I lived in a bush…so everyday was a struggle…I’d eat out of garbage cans

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Stephen – It’s different from Coquitlam, that’s for sure. When I first came to Surrey…I was surprised at how there is like open drug use everywhere…the tent city that was here…it was very different.  It took me a long time to open up and start talking to people.

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Stephen – It’s hard…everything is a struggle..you got to do to survive especially when you are a drug addict

Nancy – When you were living on the street where did you sleep at night?

Stephen – For my first couple of years…I didn’t know how to be homeless..but once I got everything settled…I had a camp that I lived in for two years.

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Stephen –  Most of the time because I tried to stay clear of people…because there is a lot of violence down here

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Stephen – Yes, brother, mother, father

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

Stephen – Mixed feelings…I like the feeling of being able to do what I wanted all the time but every night especially when it rains..really down..like crap…this sucks. Overall it wasn’t great.

Nancy – How do you do you make money? How did you feed yourself?

Stephen – For the first couple of years, I’d eat out of garbages…when I came to Surrey it was great…food handed out all the time…since the drugs were always first, basically food would be whatever I could find really

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

Stephen – Try not to think about my life…just keep one foot forward…one foot before the other.

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

Stephen – When I was homeless…there’s no way I can maintain a job…I don’t think I could get a job with my resume that I have…no experience…hardly worked at all when I was younger…I had a job at McDonald’s for two years and that’s it…so I don’t even think about working…I’m glad to be on welfare.

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

Stephen – They didn’t help me. Lookout helped me when the Modular came up.

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

Stephen – I don’t know…there is really anything I look forward to…
Nancy – What is the hardest part of living in an tent?

Stephen – The weather, the water would flood the tent…so I had to set my bed up in such a way that it wouldn’t get wet…everyday the tent was soaked….it really sucked…everyday the tent was soaked.

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding shelter?

Stephen – My will to do it…because once the modular came up and I really wanted it…I went for it and I got it…but prior to that…I was resigned to my situation.

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

Stephen – Everyday is a challenge because I am so depressed all the time.

Nancy – Did you ever stay in a homeless camp?

Stephen – Yes..it was when I was first homeless…he was an older guy…kind of showed me how to take care of myself

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

Stephen – Oh absolutely…I know a lot of the guys out here.

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

Stephen – Absolutely…we recognize we are in this together so there is a great sense of camaraderie

Nancy – Can you tell us something no one knows about you..

Stephen – That’s a tough one…might have to get back to that one.

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

Stephen – They think we’re lazy…good for nothing…they don’t see us as people you know

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Stephen – Being with my family and actually feeling close with them..not like an outsider

Nancy – What needs to be done for the homeless? What do the homeless need?

Stephen – We need to be looked at as people…we want to feel like we are part of the community…instead of feeling like outsiders

Nancy – What about places for people to go during the day?

Stephen – So the Front Room was great, it sucks that they’re closed now.

Nancy – What would have changed your life?

Stephen – If I had found a passion sooner like what I am doing know…giving back to the community…maybe if I had found a passion sooner…then that would have been different.

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Stephen – Need to find the will and the drive

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Stephen – Heroin

Nancy – What does that do for you?

Stephen – Numbs me so I don’t feel any pain or any thing really …that’s absolutely why heroin has always been my drug of choice.

Nancy – How are you managing that? How are you managing you addiction?

Stephen – Luckily for me I am part of the iOAT program…so they provide me two shots a day plus I get morphine for overnight. That changed my life…if I had not been in these programs…I’d still be doing dope everyday.

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day?

Stephen – Talking to my best friend.

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

Stephen – Sometimes I will sleep all day…I’ll miss my doses and then I will have to lay awake all night feeling like sh it

Nancy – How do you stay healthy?

Stephen – I eat regularly…as regularly as I can…I feel a lot better and probably look a lot better than I used to.Thanks to all the stuff I have going on now…the Modular, the iOAT program

Nancy – How do you keep safe?

Stephen – I’m respectful to everybody..I don’t really hang around people and that keeps me safe.

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Stephen – I think everything happens for a reason.

Nancy – Do people really want to solve  homelessness?

Stephen – I think homeless people do…but people who are safe in their bed …I don’t think they really care either way…I don’t think they think about it really.

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

Stephen – I guess to make enough money to do what I want to do.
Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Stephen – Working at McDonald’s for two years…yeah been a long time.

Nancy – Prior to getting into the Modular Housing…how long has it been since you slept in a bed, that wasn’t in a shelter?

Stephen – Good 5 years

Nancy – Do you have any kids?

Stephen – No

Nancy – One sentence to sum up your current situation?

Stephen – Gratitude…I’m grateful to be where I am now because where I was before sucked

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

Stephen – Hey, you know there is a lot of people suffering out there ..we have the means to solve these problems…why is it such a non priority issue for everybody? Because we have the means…all we got to do is build a bunch of places…I mean if we could set that up for a lot of people…I mean it’s worked for me…it’s worked for a lot of other people…I think it’s really a step in the right direction.

Nancy – Thank you for sharing your story.

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