Zoe’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 30, 2018

Zoe, 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 doing interview with members for the Homelessness Action Week.

Nancy – What’s your name?

Zoe – My name is Zoe

Nancy – Do you have any nicknames?

Zoe – No

Nancy – Do you mind telling me how old you are?

Zoe – 51

Nancy – Hometown?

Zoe – Port Burwell, Ontario

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Zoe – Surrey

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Zoe – Yes

Nancy – How did that start?

Zoe – My husband died when I was 45 years old…his kids came to stay with me….and his kids got me into drugs…started me with the cocaine, started in with the meth, crystal meth, and shortly after that happened…my mother had died. .got into drugs more heavily…stuff just went to hell after that…it’s so hard to really explain…but about 5 months after that…I met Dennis…right after my husband died…we got into drugs very very heavily……my dad had thrown us out…we had nowhere to go and we were living in a car…so we went to a town where we knew people…stayed with them for a month and we ended up again homeless after there…I had a nervous breakdown, ended up in the hospital for 6 weeks…came out here to Surrey

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Zoe – About 2 years

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Zoe – It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.

Nancy – Can you tell me a bit about your journey?

Zoe – I’ve learned that being homeless and on the streets is a journey everyday of your life…dealing with where you are and what you do…what you have to put up with and everything else….you can’t be private on the street…you can’t…no such thing as privacy…no sense of dignity…that’s probably the biggest thing…there’s no sense of dignity…no sense of privacy…no sense of being. Am I going to make it another day? Because I’ve been through the nervous breakdown already

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Zoe – there are a lot of programs here that help and they are helping…never get that kind of help in Ontario…like DOPERS to start with…that’s a godsend..it saved me..you guys keep me grounded..it’s something I look forward to everyday…it is..you guys are my lifesavers.

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Zoe – No…you never know…first night I got a tent..a guy walking on the street and there was blood all over his face…he was covered in blood …he walked to the end of the street…and he got beaten.

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Zoe – None that I talk too

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

Zoe – Every time I go where I am, I cry.

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

Zoe – Collecting bottles, welfare, work as a prostitute

Nancy – How do you get by?

Zoe – Day by day…that’s it

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

Zoe – Everyday I get up that my feet aren’t so sore is going to be a good day.

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

Zoe – Staying warm, staying safe…we could never have anything, it always got stolen…we had phones, tablets…everything got stolen…anytime we had anything..it always got stolen

Nancy – What are your roadblocks to finding housing?

Zoe – A lot of people don’t want to rent to someone who’s on welfare…someone who’s homeless…

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

Zoe – Getting up in the morning and getting out of bed.

Nancy – Did you live in the homeless camp?

Zoe – Just the strip

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

Zoe – Yeah I know quite a few homeless people

Nancy – Do you feel there is a sense of community within the homeless population? Do you help each other out with tips, ideas?

Zoe – Yeah, it’s like an extended family. Growing up I had two brothers…now I have 300 brothers and sisters. That’s the way it feels..we’re family..we all stick up for each other…we all look out for each other. .we all help each other whenever we can…and it’s amazing as a family on the strip..it was the best feeling in the world

Nancy – Tell us one thing about yourself?

Zoe – I have two years left to live. I’m dying of myotonic dystrophy and it’s going to kill me.

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

Zoe – That we’re all thieves

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Zoe – My mom

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

Zoe – People to give us a chance

Nancy – What would have changed your life? What could have happened to change things?

Zoe – With my husband dying, my mom dying…my dad took advantage of me

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Zoe – I honestly don’t know

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Zoe – Heroin

Nancy – How do you manage your addiction? What do the drugs do for you?

Zoe – It makes me able to get up

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day?

Zoe – Knowing I’ve got that toke

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

Zoe – Knowing what can I sell to get that toke? What can I do to get that dope? How am I going to get my toke today?

Nancy – How do you keep safe?

Zoe – My partner keeps me safe

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Zoe – Just if I can get up and move

Nancy – Do people really want to solve homelessness?

Zoe – Some people yes

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

Zoe – I keep hoping the doctors are wrong

Nancy – Where do you keep your belongings?

Zoe – In a room

Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Zoe – I worked at Tim Horton’s

Nancy – How long ago was it?

Zoe – 25 years ago

Zoe –

Nancy – How many kids do you have?

Zoe – 2

Nancy – One sentence to sum up your current situation?

Zoe – I’m a survivor

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

Zoe – Give us a chance

Nancy – Final thoughts?

Zoe – I would like to see the government step up and keep the programs in place that they have..put back programs they took away from us and help us.

Nancy – Zoe, Thank you for sharing your story. You had some really good things to say