Michelle’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 30, 2018

Michelle, 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 asking questions for the Homelessness Action Week.

Nancy – Name?

Michelle – Michelle

Nancy – Nickname?

Michelle – Chelle

Nancy – Age?

Michelle – 47

Nancy – Hometown?

Michelle – Surrey

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Michelle – Right here in Surrey

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Michelle – Yes…I’ve spent the last 3 years basically homeless

Nancy – How did that start?

Michelle – Boyfriend at the time found out I was hiding my drug habit behind his back and he found out I was using and he decided to call the Ministry on me and have my daughter apprehended and my landlord found out I was using and I got evicted and that was the end of me having housing…because it’s very hard to find housing if any of your landlords find out you are using drugs.

Nancy – Tell us about your journey?

Michelle – Most of my life, I had a good career..I was a truck driver.. I drove Semis for 7 years and basically my drug use started when I had a head on accident with another Semi. I had so much pain, it wouldn’t go away

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Michelle – The people of Surrey look down on the homeless

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Michelle – Trying to get a meal is hard

Nancy – Where do you sleep at night?

Michelle – In a tent…it’s very very hard to stay warm and dry.

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Michelle – Absolutely not..there’s a lot of robberies…people get mugged all the time

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Michelle – I do…they’ve all basically shut me out because I am an addict.

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

Michelle – You feel lost, you feel isolated, you feel alone.

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

Michelle – I collect bottles every night.

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

Michelle – I go and collect as many bottles as I can.

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

Michelle – It’s almost impossible…nobody wants to hire somebody who doesn’t have an address

Nancy – Are you on welfare?

Michelle – Yes

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

Michelle – No

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

Michelle – The day I get to have my daughter back

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

Michelle – Knowing that you have to go there every night

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding shelter?

Michelle – The funding, you don’t make enough money

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

Michelle – Waking up..trying to get the energy together to get out of bed and face the day

Nancy – Tell us something no one knows about you

Michelle – I was 4 years away from becoming an Olympic athlete

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

Michelle – 99% of us are really good people who just had a really bad break in life

Nancy – What do you miss the most?

Michelle – Sitting at home, watching TV with my kids

Nancy – What needs to be done for the homeless?

Michelle – They need more housing, something affordable…we need a place to live too…we need a place too..we can’t afford the rents that people are putting out there

Nancy – What would have changed your life?

Michelle – If I never had my accident, my life would be totally different right now

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Michelle – having someone give me a break but nobody will give me a break of giving me a job because I’m homeless

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Michelle – Heroin

Nancy – How do you manage your addiction?

Michelle – Don’t use a whole lot…I use it to control my pain

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day?

Michelle – When somebody who you don’t know says Hi to you on the street.

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

Michelle – Hope that nobody going to try and steal from you…trying to find a meal or even a cup of coffee sometimes

Nancy – How do you stay healthy?

Michelle – Constantly sick for the last 3 years

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Michelle – Everything happens for a reason

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

Michelle – They just want to make it appear non existent…that it’s not there anymore

Nancy – What does the future look like?

Michelle – I will get past the pain issues and I will be able to become clean

Nancy – Where do you keep your belongings?

Michelle – In a tent or with you at all times

Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Michelle – A cook, 4 years ago

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

Michelle – about 3.5 years ago

Nancy – You have kids?

Michelle – Yep

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

Michelle – I may be homeless but I am not helpless

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

Michelle – We may be homeless but we are not helpless…we are people too..we deserve a break

Nancy – Final thoughts? What do you wish would happen?

Michelle – Wish that people would think a little bit more before judging us….try to understand that the person has a story behind how they got to where they are. Everybody has a story.

Nancy – Thank you very much for sharing your story

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