Earl’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 30, 2018

Earl, 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 of people for Homelessness Action Week.

Nancy – Welcome today! What’s your name?

Earl – Earl

Nancy – Got any nicknames?

Earl – Rusty

Nancy – How old are you!

Earl – 46

Nancy – Where’s your hometown?

Earl – Saint John, New Brunswick

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Earl – Here, now

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Earl – Yes

Nancy – How did that start?

Earl – I rented a room from my sister and she neglected to pay the rent

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Earl – 3 years…little more

Nancy – Tell us about your journey? What did you do before coming here?

Earl – I was in prison, the penitentiary

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Earl – The police are actually better out here

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Earl – Everyday you have to worry…at night when you are sleeping…gotta worry if somebody’s going to come jump you…Try to find a place out here for what you get on disability almost impossible…that’s why I’m homeless right at the moment

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Earl – Nothing really scares me

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

Earl – I wish that there was some way to swing it so I can get more money to pay rent somewhere

Nancy – How do you do you make money?

Earl – Hustle, Panhandle

Nancy – That’s how you are able to get money to feed yourself?

Earl – Yes, cigarettes, food

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

Earl – Whatever I can, Whatever I need to do to get by…sit there…panhandle

Nancy – Living where you are and in the situation that you’re in right now….does that make it hard to get a job?

Earl – Yes…how can you when you are homeless? You don’t know when you are going to sleep in the next ten minutes…it’s hard…really hard.

Nancy – You receive Social Assistance, are they helping you find a place to live?

Earl – They didn’t help find a place

Nancy – What do you look forward to each day?

Earl – Waking up and having my wife beside me

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

Earl – It gets cold sometimes at night

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding shelter?

Earl – Financial

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

Earl – From when you wake up until you go to bed, everything is a challenge and especially if somebody knows you’re homeless, some people frown upon that

Nancy – Can you tell us something nobody knows about you?

Earl – That I’m scared…I portray like I’m a tough guy and I can handle this and handle that…but… I’m scared inside

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

Earl – That they’re useless because they don’t want to do anything…you can’t do anything when you don’t know where you are going to live the next minute

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Earl – Having a place to live…to call home…have a key in your pocket so you can unlock the door and get in instead of pulling a tarp and crawl in

Nancy – What needs to be done for the homeless?

Earl – Housing is the main thing

Nancy – What could have changed your life?

Earl – When I went into the penitentiary…maybe if I had it a little rougher, maybe I might not have done so much time.

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Earl – A good place to live because once you have a good place to live, a home, an apartment…then you can work on everything else

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Earl – Cocaine

Nancy – How do you manage your addiction?

Earl – Panhandle, Hustle

Nancy – What do the drugs do for you?

Earl – Takes me away from where I’m at right at the moment

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day?

Earl – Doing something to make my wife smile

Nancy – How do you stay healthy?

Earl – Don’t eat no vegetables

Nancy – How do you keep safe?

Earl – Anywhere I walk I always know everything around me

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs that you live by?

Earl – I believe that you should never hit a woman

Nancy – What is the best part of your day?

Earl – Getting that first meal for my wife and me

Nancy – Do people really want to end homelessness?

Earl – You can help the people who really want help

Nancy – What does the future look like?

Earl – I go day by day

Nancy – Hopes and wishes for yourself?

Earl – Someday we’ll find a place

Nancy – Where do you keep all your stuff, your belongings?

Earl – Usually in the tent or in a duffle bag

Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Earl – Roofer

Nancy – How long ago was it?

Earl – 3 years ago

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

Earl – Like 3.5 – 4 years ago

Nancy – Do you have any children?

Earl – Yep I have 4 and her son also

Nancy – In conclusion, One sentence to sum up your current situation?

Earl – Just don’t think that all people that are homeless are useless…it’s just the situations they’re in. Before I was ever homeless…I thought like these people did…”Oh you can work…” But now that I’m actually homeless and I live it…it’s not because you don’t want to..it’s more or less you really can’t

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

Earl – Things go up and up, wages stay the same…how you supposed to live on that same wage when everything just went up again?

Nancy – Final thoughts?

Earl – I just hope people see this and realize not all people that are homeless are useless but we have to be helped with the housing first…and social assistance could help with a little bit extra money so you can match the inflation of the rent which it doesn’t…welfare stays the same everywhere …rents go up…welfare still stays the same

Nancy – I want to thank you for coming today and sharing your story with us

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