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DOPERS Surrey and Langley on Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018 Leave a comment

Oct. 7-13 is Homelessness Action Week in British Columbia.  Members of Diverse Organization Providing Education and Regional Services (DOPERS) in Surrey and Langley graciously allowed us to interview them and relay their homeless experiences to a wider audience.

 

Please click on the links below to see their videos, photos and stories

Uncle Bill of Surrey

Gary of Surrey

Douglas of Langley

Lorretta of Langley

Troy of Langley

Cheri of Surrey

Stephen of Surrey

Wally of Surrey

Deryk of Surrey

 

 

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Uncle Bill’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018 Leave a comment

Uncle Bill, 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 – I’m Nancy. I’m with Diverse Organization Providing Education + Regional Services. We are here to do interviews for the Homeless Awareness Week and right now I am here with Uncle Bill.

Nancy – So what’s your real name?

Uncle Bill – My real name is William Rose

Nancy – What’s your nickname?

Uncle Bill – My nickname is Uncle Bill and that’s another story in itself. It came way back when I was in the furniture moving business…I got out of the Semi in front of the house…this little girl in a solid dress comes running across the front lawn and said “What’s your name?” And I said “It’s Uncle Bill because in real life I was Uncle Bill two hours before then…my little nephew was born…that was 44 years ago or something because that is his age now and I have been called Uncle Bill ever since.

Nancy – How old are you Uncle Bill?

Uncle Bill – On August 10th, I was 68 years old.

Nancy – What’s your hometown?

Uncle Bill – Well, I came here from Thompson, Manitoba but I was an adult when I came here from there. I finished school in Thompson, Manitoba. I was born and raised in Ontario.

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Uncle Bill – I stay in Surrey pretty well. Exclusively now.

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Uncle Bill – I was homeless until a couple of months ago. I got into the Modular Housing.

Nancy – How did you end up homeless?

Uncle Bill – I guess I’ve been on the streets for so long…I sorta fit right into the homeless thing. I’m famous for helping out people and not helping myself so much. So I ended living in a tent actually one time. And in and out of the shelters…if you don’t…well they will find some way of kicking you out..just to smarten you up…get you back into the swing of things I guess.

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Uncle Bill – I have been playing with it for 20 years probably. I’ve been here steady for 10 years. So I just got out of it so 10 years I’ve been homeless.

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

Uncle Bill – Well I was a traveling salesman for years, I sold carpeting and flooring. My territory was Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario so I had full expenses…I owned a house. I owned a condominium, 3 different vehicles. Slowly went down from there. I divorced but we just grew apart. We were both traveling. My wife was a professional figure skater and I was traveling, selling, playing hockey and stuff…we just grew apart…we’d still be friends. She has since remarried, has a child…one child that I know of.  I ended up slowly going down…I could always look after myself, come up with money when I needed it.

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Uncle Bill – It’s changed quite a bit. I stayed away from politics. I sort of got into politics a little bit one time. I was staying away from politics but the Mayor tried desperately to clean up the place …they got rid of all the tents and stuff but that just spread everybody out. I notice that quite a bit because I’m involved in Rig Dig as another way to make money and get paid for it. Every second Friday I get a cheque for a couple hundred dollars so that’s good because I’m on pension now…so i got a pension..other money coming in…it’s alright.

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Uncle Bill – Well, if you’re not me…I think it’s pretty hard. Normal street person, it’s ridiculous. It turns people that are real nice people into a crime situation. They end up selling dope, doing other things they wouldn’t normally do if they were not homeless. Jobs and things they do anyway..hard to stay with them…everyone’s getting older and then it’s impossible for them to do any kind of work. I say it’s a pretty hard thing.

Nancy – Where do you live right now?

Uncle Bill – I just got moved into a Modular home…it’s really good for me. My own washroom, my own bed. It’s a nice clean place.

Nancy – Did you feel safe on the streets when you were living on the streets?

Uncle Bill – I felt safe. Everybody knows me. I know the good guys and the bad guys.

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Uncle Bill – I’ve got real family, one sister and my parents are dead.

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

Uncle Bill – It’s not a healthy situation for anybody’s mind to be homeless I don’t think. Not the way I grew up, nice loving family…there was never a problem… homeless was something you didn’t ever hear. probably sheltered life I lived I guess.

Nancy – How do you do you make money?

Uncle Bill – How I make money now is legal..I stay away from illegal stuff..I haven’t done any illegal stuff for a long time.

Nancy – How do you feed yourself?

Uncle Bill – This Modular home we got… they feed us…well two good meals a day…they have cereal out in the morning  and stuff and coffee there.

Nancy – Before Modular housing, how did you feed yourself?

Uncle Bill – I used to say it was against the law to starve to death in Canada because there was food all over the place…around here the Front Room feed everybody…there’d be big lineups going around the block to get there food. Always good meal.

Nancy – Does sleeping where you are make it hard to get a job?

Uncle Bill – Well I am old and retired now, no…sleeping where I am ..there’s people in there and they worked all their lives…there are a couple of ladies in there who are flagmen…steady..I see them because I am up early all the time anyways…that’s being there. If you are in the shelter, you’re in a dorm situation…bunks right beside each other…Then there’s 40 people to want to get into one bathroom..sort of a situation…not a good one in itself. You have to put in your name for shower time…that’s a 15 minute thing…especially if you are a guy trying to shave, change your clothes and everything..15 minutes is pretty well impossible.

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

Uncle Bill – I’m an early riser. I’m up early so I can have my bowl of cereal and stuff like that.  Right now, I work the weekends …so I’m working all weekend…I’m good there. I look forward to it actually. It’s only Saturday and Sunday…it goes by pretty quick when I am walking around…picking up rigs and stuff like that on the street.

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

Uncle Bill – Well the weather was not always favorable and even then when it was favorable..you leave your tent…it’s not like you are walking away and locking a door…people making a living ripping off anything you got. So if you aren’t carrying your valuables, it’s pretty well gone when you get back. It’s about the hardest part. My hardest part really was the weather…when it gets cold out there…there is no open flame in there… No propane allowed around or nothing….gets pretty hard to stay warm…just the way it’s wet  and when it’s wet and cold…you’re pretty well screwed..you try the best you can to stay warm.

Nancy – Thinking about your time living in a tent, before you got to be in the modular…What was the biggest roadblock you had to finding shelter?

Uncle Bill –  So much competition..if you are homeless and looking for…they know you are homeless..they want references from your last landlady…my last landlady was 10 years ago..”Yeah right…I am going to rent to you for sure!” That’s the biggest roadblock, you have no real references to give anybody. And most of us now have criminal records from one thing or another…you’re a no good person for sure…and lots of us aren’t. There’s pretty good people out there. It looks like on paper they’re a piece of shit…pardon the language …but that’s the way you are treated. There’s not even a chance to get to know somebody to talk and get to know somebody…about face and take a hike.

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

Uncle Bill – some days just getting to certain places, there are a ways to get to one place to eat…then you got to plan on your next place…not going to be eating for the next three or four hours…sometimes just getting there…a difficult situation…and even if it’s close by, they don’t want you loitering, no place around..you can’t sit down in a park bench…I’ve got sometimes a little bit of money…try to have a picnic out in the park and the police have literally told me to get up and get the move on. You can’t even you know…you could have friends and family in from out of town…and you got no place to take them but if you have a picnic…there’s picnic tables out there…but we’re not allowed to use them.

Nancy – What is life like in the homeless camp? Was it safer?

Uncle Bill – Well you got your neighbors..when he is looking after your stuff and when he’s gone, look after his stuff…you get to know the families around you..it’s pretty good…it’s pretty safe… people who usually come in.. robbing type people…you know them anyways…so they know better to stay away…sort of shoo them away…anywhere near our stuff.

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

Uncle Bill – Yes…me personally I am connected to pretty well all of them.

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

Uncle Bill –  Absolutely

Nancy – Do you help each other out with tips, ideas?

Uncle Bill – Yeah for sure…yeah oh yeah. You know there could be a block away, somebody over there giving away $100 bills in one case…well…it didn’t take too long for our little to secretly get over there…yeah…once that happened but it did happen..and I did get a $100 bill. Of course there was one little girl there who got 3 $100 bills…and she’s “I’ll pass them behind”…and a bunch of us saw her pocket them…she got a $100 bill for herself and the 2 she was supposed to pass on…she put in her own pocket. Of course we said something to her about it  but she just walked away.

Nancy – Tell us something no one knows about you?

Uncle Bill – I used to be a girl…no I’m kidding…I’m sort of famous for joking around

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

Uncle Bill – The homeless, there’s a lot…there’s more than 50% of the homeless are very good people…church going even…they just got stuck in a situation where they…and there is a lot of the people that I am pretty close to that are in a home that are worried about they won’t be able to pay the rent. Now what’s going to happen? They’re right on the edge… One paycheck from being actually worst off than I am. That’s the situation I’m sort of worried about because I know some good friends of mine….they’re in an apartment and stuff..living in and renting a basement suite and stuff..it’s a nice suite but they don’t know how they are going to come up with the rent for next month..they’re already living on..you know..they’re behind on their rent as it is right now.

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Uncle Bill – My youth…I can go with the flow a lot easier..because I’ve been up there and down there…Me with nothing..I’m still way better off than a lot of these people…that are just sitting in a home…they’ve got no recreation whatsoever…their whole being is trying to find food for the family…stuff like that…and there’s food out there..and sometimes your wife is sick and they’ll give you a plate of food but they’ve got too many other people.

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

Uncle Bill –  They need a roof over their head and some running water and that’s the hard part…you get to a point…you just can’t have a shower…you got no place to go…like the Front Room now..it’s not a drop in anymore. You go to the Front Room..you’re not living there…it’s a shelter…that’s what it is now…if you’re not one of the people who had a bed in there…you don’t get to go in there and eat…you can’t go in there at any time now and have a coffee, sit and watch TV…only the people who live in there can go in there and have a coffee and sit and watch TV. You don’t live there, you are not allowed through the doors.

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Uncle Bill – I don’t know …I had a few opportunities…I was so busy looking after other people for some stupid reason…I wasn’t helping myself. I still need some help…I haven’t done my taxes for a couple of years now.

Nancy – What is your drug of choice? How do you manage that?

Uncle Bill – My drug of choice would have to be heroin. Well my addiction is…I’m in the middle…I’m not selling the stuff..but people who are looking for stuff.. and good clean stuff …they come to me and they sort of piece me off for making sure they don’t get ripped off and they do get dope that got a little bit of heroin in it….whatever dope you’re looking for has all pretty well got fentanyl in it…even the smoke dope got fentanyl in it.

Nancy – What do the drugs do for you?

Uncle Bill – Just mellows me out… Takes the edge off…so I can fall asleep easier… I’m more relaxed in my daily routine.

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

Uncle Bill – I have a problem with police that are ignorant..to beating on people…then even the vice versa…some of the convicts are just as bad or worse.

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Uncle Bill – We all got to live together…some cases I outright make people get along.

Nancy – What is the best part of your day?

Uncle Bill – The best part of my day…I’ve been cutting down on my smoking…but the best part of my day is actually sitting down and having one cigarette…that will make me go fo another three hours.

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

Uncle Bill – I think they do…it would sure make it a lot easier for a lot of people’s lives if the homeless thing would go away. Our city would be a lot better looking if we didn’t have a homeless problem running around. People are running around in front of the Bylaws, and hiding and setting up their tents…but the Bylaws been doing it for a long time too..they know all the hiding spots…just like me picking up rigs…I know where all the spots are…there are people going out picking up rigs…getting 25-30 rigs in a day..I get..you know…300, 400 and that’s every day. I get from walking from home to here…I got 5 rigs today..I just brought in a whole big thing…pick up any needles and stuff that are around the building and I do that everyday for free and I deposit them in here in the back office.

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

Uncle Bill – What I’m working on right now…the Modulars aren’t there forever…behave myself and go along with the little rules. I got to prove to them that I can look after myself in this situation. I’ve got my own bed, my own shower, my own toilet…if I can look after myself in there…they will let me move into one of their new apartments and stuff. It will be a brand new situation all together. It will be mine till death do us part.

Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Uncle Bill – My last steady job was probably Allied Shipping company.

Nancy – How long ago was that?

Uncle Bill – That was 15 years ago

Nancy – Do you have any children?

Uncle Bill – None

Nancy – In conclusion,  in one sentence to sum up your current situation, what would that be?

Uncle Bill – The homeless has a real problem with the gangsters that are running around and they are not even homeless but they are running around in the homeless crowd hiding in and out to pull their gangster moves off…it makes it look like the homeless are all in on the situation when they are not…these guys are making money off the homeless people.

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

Uncle Bill – Well the first thing I’d like to tell Mr. Trudeau was that I was a licensed guide instructor for the Province of Manitoba and I did do a little bit of that in Northwestern Ontario. I ran into a canoe trip where Prime Minister Trudeau, his father..Pierre Elliott Trudeau wrote a little note in the middle of one of these canoe trips and you sort of have to go on a canoe trip to run into that situation but he’d know what I’m talking about because him and his brother were there on that canoe trip with their dad…Mackenzie route and stuff like that on one of their portages and it’s all mapped out on the canoe trip. So I’d let him know about, we go way back to when he was even younger…he was a littler kid than I was when I was on that canoe trip. But then, from there right on to me being a homeless person…that’s a long route. There was a long route for him to go all the way… I went from there to being a homeless person and he went from there to being the Prime Minister of Canada…I’m sure we would have a few things we could talk about.

Nancy – Got Final thoughts?

Uncle Bill – Yeah…I need a group hug.

Nancy – Thanks Uncle Bill.

Uncle Bill – From the Whole World, I need a group hug.

Nancy – Thanks for sharing.

Gary’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018 Leave a comment

Gary, 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 – I’m Nancy. I’m with Diverse Organization Providing Education + Regional Services. We are here to do interviews for the Homelessness Awareness Week. I’m here to interview this gentleman.

Nancy – What’s your name?

Gary – Gary

Nancy – Hi Gary, Do you have a Nickname?

Gary – No, I just go by my real name.

Nancy – How old are you?

Gary – 45

Nancy – Where did you come from? Where’s your Hometown?

Gary – I was born in Calgary. Spent most of my youth in Calgary…then I moved out to BC late 20s, early 30s.

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Gary – Here in Surrey mostly.

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Gary – Yes, unfortunately.

Nancy – How did that happen?

Gary – Well it was rather bizarre circumstances which I thought was very unfair. I was living at Towers…I was there for almost 5 years and because owing $45 and I had taken in another homeless man I knew from here in Surrey  but I guess the type of people he hung around with..more of a stereotypical thing…they didn’t like the girls the guy was hanging out with…because of the way they chose to live their life..it kind of affected me staying at…so I ended going…they took me to a meditation which they didn’t tell me…how to fight or give me any ideas how to fight this order for them to go and…they applied for an order for a sheriff to remove me from the building…eventually one day…just after we got the disability payment…the sheriff came knocking on the door..they took everything I owned from the apartment and put it out in the parking lot of the building I lived in…told me that I couldn’t no longer go to that building for owing $45 and taking in a homeless guy that I knew here from Surrey. So that’s pretty much how I ended up getting kicked out.

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Gary – Going on 5 months now.

Nancy – What did you do before you came here?

Gary – I worked through quite a few of the temp agencies…I worked jobs from Walmart…I started there as a truck unloader…unloading the big semi trucks that come into Walmart…then I got moved to ICS which is Inventory Control…and I learned how to count inventory at Walmart..how to use a telxon gun…one of those walkie stackers…had odd jobs working at Walmart..I worked at the bottle depot for a while…mostly I worked a year or so Security…and just a lot of odd jobs..

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Gary – It really sucks…It gets hard…it plays on your self esteem..it plays on your…it doesn’t help…sometimes I get the feeling…that there is a lot of what I perceive to be a lot of cold hearted people when it comes to people being homeless… and having to be in a real difficult situation..you know I was taken advantage of …I’m going through this big law suit issue because of injuries that were deliberately caused but it’s been my fifth year now fighting these guys to get the settlement money that they agreed to pay for damages but it’s been one excuse after another…and then with the..I find it to be a lot of heartlessness when it comes to people understanding or caring about people that are in a homeless situation…lot less willing to  .you know lend a hand or tried to help somebody.

Nancy – Where do you live right now?

Gary – I’m staying at one of the homeless shelters…it’s not bad but I’m starting to not like it there because…there is a lot of power tripping between guys over…it just makes it really uncomfortable to … Should be able to feel like it is somewhat at home…even though it is a homeless shelter…you should be able to feel comfortable going and where you sleep at least feel comfortable about the environment…Nothing wrong with the staff…the staff aren’t the problem..they’re very good…they’re very kind…they do what they can to help…I guess it’s some people…spent a lot of years being homeless and have attitude because of whatever reason but…it’s just difficult for a guy like me to…haven’t been homeless all that long…not used to this kind of life.. This kind of crash course in really looking at things that you do I guess.

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Gary –  I do in the sense that…I get along with pretty much anybody.  I have an attitude of I try to see the good in everybody so I don’t feel uncomfortable being on the street because I can get along with just about anybody…it’s still an environment which can be scary ..sometimes you just don’t know what is going to happen.

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Gary – Not here in Vancouver. I have family in Sparwood and some family in Blairmore…not really keeping on touch with them as much as I should be ..because my cell phone that I had bought got stolen…so kind of stuck

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

Gary – Well it hurts you know, it’s kind of a hard..hard on the self esteem….you don’t really realize…it makes it even harder when you know that you think you can reach out to  people on the street and stuff like that…there’s organizations that care about homelessness…about the people that are homeless but as for the average person that’s just walking the street or walking down the street …they wouldn’t give you the time of day… It’s hard to realize how cold some people really are when it comes to homelessness…people who are having a hard time in life…

Nancy – How do you do you make money?

Gary – If I can do the odd job and stuff like that…I look around…sometimes I go right to…like the stores and restaurants, ask them if I could wash their windows, do something to earn some extra money but I have to do what I have to do…sometimes….I go around to cut lawns or do odd jobs…some days it’s just…I don’t have any luck with that…so I have to resort to….

Nancy –  Is that how you get money to feed yourself?

Gary – Yep

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

Gary – Well because of the emotional pain and stuff that I have be involved in…I’ve been resorting to using heroin quite a bit to numb the pain to mask the amount of hurt that I have to go through every day.

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

Gary – Yeah…a lot of people, if you don’t have..just a few months ago, I had my wallet stolen out of the kitchen I was living in…a guy who I thought was my friend took my wallet and all my ID,  my BCID, my Care Card with my picture and stuff and it makes it even hard to go to the employment agency….the temporary employment agency because they won’t employ you unless you have some form of picture ID so now with my wallet getting stolen…it’s made it even harder for me to go to the temp agency to work because it’s not that I am lazy or too fat to want to work…it’s just the way it is… Temp Agencies have to have some way of recognizing, writing you the cheque…there should be some ways to get past that ….when it comes to people in homeless situations and stuff like that ..they want to work but they are verifying who you are from the shelter that you are in or whatever to be able to still be able to get some kind of employment so you can …so you don’t have to resort to crime to support your drug habits or whatever.

Nancy – Are you on welfare?

Gary – I’m on PWD..yeah

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

Gary – There’s not as much effort put into finding housing as some of these others…the shelter that I have been staying at.. They put more of an effort to helping me finding housing and filling out applications for that new modular housing that just opened up this year…the shelters put more efforts into helping you find housing than social services does.

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

Gary – Well lately the only thing that has been keeping me going is using the heroin…. I basically started having problems with my girl and started a spiral effect for me…I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and down to a point where I even thought about taking my life because of the fact that sometimes I feel I got nowhere to turn…you know …you can only express so much before it starts to turn internally…it’s pretty hard sometimes.

Nancy – Have you spent any time living in an tent?

Gary – Well that was the next choice before…there used to be the tent city right on this main street here …out here…but that would have been my next choice…when I just so happen when I got kicked out of the apartment I was living in…and a lot of it was by…I honestly know it was by force…that it just made it..that would have been my next choice… And they went and took the tent ciry away and put they put people in the new modular housing…which was a good thing because it was getting pretty chaotic on the main street….and they did do a good thing putting all those people who were in those tents in housing…more suitable places for them to live…rather than living out of a tent.

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding shelter?

Gary – I guess for me is finding a shelter that is more private where you have your own space kind of thing instead of being in a situation where you are…it’s like a dorm….where there are guys all on bunkbeds. For me it’s trying to find a shelter that is designed to allow you to have your own…more your own space so when you are having those difficult times and stuff you can go and take that time out you need or whatever to …get your space away from whatever bothering you.

Nancy – What are your roadblocks to finding housing?

Gary – I guess not enough access to computers, not enough…some of it is the price range that we’re entitled to for housing…there’s not a lot of places …we’re only allowed a maximum of $375 for shelter…there’s not a lot of places that you can find affordable housing for a single guy for that low of a housing …now it’s just getting even harder…because people…they want to know your whole life history when it comes to moving into a place…you got to go through the third degree to find a place that’s comfortable for you to live.

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

Gary – At night I guess…being alone. I guess the self esteem thing is really a big thing because I have a heart of gold…when it comes to…if I was in a situation of financial security I would bend over backwards to help…to help the next guy…just because I want to encourage you to go for your
..reach for your dreams…and go for your goals…it just doesn’t seem that way with some people

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

Gary – Well I developed friendships…some of the homeless people I guess in my opinion are closer friendships than I have with family and relatives because the feelings are more genuine and real…so yeah I have some pretty good friendships with some of the homeless people

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

Gary – I see a lot more where one of the homeless people find out something where they feel will be a benefit to the rest of the people that they hang out with…in shelters, they will come back and tell you that this is going on or they will put up a notice saying to go to this place or whatever…there is a lot more awareness as far as  community things that are going on…that with the homeless people than what you would think.

Nancy – Tell us something about you that nobody else knows?

Gary – At the blink of an eye, your whole life can change…you can be used to living a luxurious life and having a comfortable lifestyle…at the blink of an eye…everything can change.

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

Gary – I think most of these people don’t have an understanding of what’s it’s like to be homeless…they don’t realize how difficult it is for people that end up in this type of situation to…how much of a struggle it is to think that you’re…to think that you can rely on your community for help.

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Gary – Well my kids, my girl…to know that a lot of this stuff is done to hurt me…that’s where it really hits me the hardest…because these are people that I love and care about who turn around and stab me in the back…put me in a situation I’d didnt have to be in…it’s hard…because these are people that I love and care about.

Nancy – What needs to be done for the homeless?

Gary – More fundraising…more fundraising events, more housing awareness…more community support….rather than shunning us and looking at us as some kind of disease or  some kind of virus…instead of focusing more on the cure…instead of being part of the cause…

Nancy – Are there programs for Homeless Places for people to go during the day?

Gary – There are certain shelters that you can go but there aren’t enough of these places…places like …they used to have the Front Room…where the homeless people could go during the day..watch TV, make phone calls for jobs and housing and stuff like that…but it seems like there’s not enough resources to have situations where the homeless can go and use the resources…access computers to look for housing or employment.

Nancy – What would have changed your life?

Gary – I guess not being stabbed in the back..actually the people that I love and cared about…actually believing in me enough to know that…in a financially secure situation whether I know you or not…I’d go the extra mile and make sure that there was no homelessness…there was no children suffering…women being hurt, men being hurt…the focus is prevention for a lot of these situations.

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Gary – Well right now it’s heroin…that’s what I used the most.

Nancy – How do you manage your addiction?

Gary – Right now because it’s lack of belief..I have … If I can’t get a job through the employment agency I have to resort to ….in order to support my addiction.

Nancy – What do the drugs do for you?

Gary – They kind of mask …they mask the pain both emotionally and …I have a degenerative disc disease that causes a lot of lower back issues…I find that if I don’t use a certain amount of the drug..I can’t sleep…I’m constantly in pain…both emotionally and physically.

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day for you?

Gary – It would be to be able to have a home again…to be able to be with my girl and my kids.  To have the people that owe me for the settlement to finally come to realize the …all their excuses..all their lies…All their backstabbing tactics that they use as a stall tactic is only going to turn around and bite them on the ass because it’s just going to mean that I am going to have to resort to more legal issues to ensure that the settlement is paid

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

Gary – A lot of it I have to rely on the kindness of the shelter that I am staying at right now…how I get my laundry done…thankfully they provide 3 meals a day…they’re good people. You know I’m tired of people saying.. making all these false promises..only to be end up kicked in the face…I can only handle having my heart broken so many times before I get concerned as to how far they are going to push me.

Nancy – How do you keep healthy? How do you keep safe?

Gary – I do lot of walking…If I had access to the gym…I’d be going to the gym…I’d like to stay fairly healthy…

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Gary – The only belief I hold strongest to is Love. You know I try to love and care about the next guy as I can…with the lack of support and lack of belief in who I am …it does make it rather hard for me to rely and trust certain people because they’re repeatedly telling you they are going to do this and going to do that…and it turns out to be a slap in the face..it makes it more difficult to believe in the people you love and care about.

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

Gary – I don’t think there is as much focus as there should be…as far as solving the problems because I think a lot of it has to do…looking at the root of what the problem is before it becomes a homeless issue…and putting enough belief and love in your brothers and sisters…

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

Gary – My hopes are even though I have been kicked down repeatedly as much as I have…to be able to take my settlement money that I am going to get and open up … I want to open up an entertainment company where we have little guy dancers, dance teams,  all the way up to youth dance teams, the adult dance teams…to show people that it is through the love and respect for…that I have for everyone…that I want to be able to sing about it and do shows about it…to reinforce how important love for your fellow man, your sisters, your brothers…how important that really is…to revive that and to push that back out into the community where I think will be more of a focus to …how important love really is in general..

Nancy – Where do you keep your belongings?

Gary – What little stuff I have is at the shelter I am staying at.

Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Gary – My last steady job would be working for a Telemarketing company …I was just doing surveys on the phone.

Nancy – How long ago was that?

Gary – It was a couple of years ago.

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

Gary – About 5 months ago

Nancy – Do you have any kids?

Gary – Two sons, three daughters…all kids I really miss..it’s really hard…to be put in this situation…and not be able to see my kids…it’s really hard for me.

Nancy – Can you give us one sentence that would sum up your current situation?

Gary – It really sucks, this situation

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

Gary – I would tell them..tell them that before you go judging people…I guess it would be to..actually take the time to sit and talk with the people before you make your political decisions…that if you don’t understand how difficult it is to be constantly hurt and betrayed…it’s hard to trust people who are in a secure situations because my beliefs and what I intend to do with the company I want to create is ..is going to make a difference. I think it’s more personal awareness …knowing and walking a mile in the other person’s shoes before they judge.

Nancy – Do you have final thoughts?

Gary – It’s pretty tough…I’m really having a difficult time because of this settlement and being in this situation…it’s really hard for me.

Nancy – What would you like to see happen?

Gary – I would like for the woman that I know that I love and care about to actually…for the settlement to finally come …for them to live up for their honor and their heart and actually pay the settlement so that I can live up to my word and my heart and make happen what I think I know would make a difference for a lot of people.

Nancy – Thank you for sharing Gary…really appreciate

Douglas’ Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018 Leave a comment

Douglas, a member of Diverse Organization Providing Education and Regional Services (DOPERS) in Langley 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 interviewing people regarding the homelessness action week. We’re getting their stories.

Nancy – So we are here with this fine young man today. What is your name sir?

Douglas – My name is Douglas.

Nancy – Do you have a nickname?

Douglas – Everybody calls me Dutch

Nancy – How old are you?

Douglas – 43

Nancy – Where is your hometown?

Douglas – Windsor, Ontario originally

Nancy – Where do you stay the most?

Douglas – Aldergrove now, although I’ve stayed in Surrey and Langley

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Douglas – Not at this time being but I have been for about 15-20 years off and on, in and out of jails….and homeless a lot…couch surfing more but done the tenting and all that.

Nancy – How did you become homeless?

Douglas – For many years it was addiction really…back then there wasn’t so much people touching base…with stuff that you needed…root problems…and I was doing dope all the time…so I was in and out of jail…living on the street…lot of years…

Nancy – How Long?

Douglas – I’m 43 now …a good 15 -20 years…that I was either incarcerated or bouncing around cities…couches…even one time I ran a recovery house for a little bit…stayed clean but there were…but it fell through…I had to do it on my own…

Nancy – Can you tell us about your journey?  What did you do before you got to this point?

Douglas – Everything off the books, everything I could think of..from stealing cars…I was a prolific car thief..the was the majority of my charges…but nothing major or violent…any thing I could do…work under the table…work for these temporary agencies…make what money you can…paid by day. Yeah, people do what they got to do to survive.

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Douglas – Langley? It’s got its fair share of problems just like every other city  ..like Vancouver …a quote unquote East End of every town and city I’ve lived in. Right? There’s always a pocket of people that are in the same position.

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

Douglas – Being young and dumb…too confident from 19 to 35ish…started figuring things out for myself…but it was mostly addiction…throwing people in jail who steal chocolate bars…you go in and you are doing time with long time offenders .. you’re learning nothing but doing more crime when you are getting out…so basically jail is an institution..and it would continue from then on..

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Douglas – You go without running water, without sewage, without showers, without electricity, without a safety net…you know like welfare..it is tough…it is really tough…but you get one sense of individual being, not being taxed to death or being controlled…it’s a hit and miss…people like to feel independent and do their own thing and being able to do their own thing but nowadays it’s illegal, can’t camp anywhere without being moved on for a week or so..

Nancy – Where do you live right now?

Douglas – Aldergrove

Nancy – Do you feel safe while living on the streets?

Douglas – Myself, yeah for myself but I had a pretty low disregard if things hit the fan… but no I wasn’t afraid of anything throughout that time. After a few high speed chases and collisions…you just sort of get numb to all of that.

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Douglas – Yep, yep…for a long time we didn’t speak…but that was part of the way I went the way that I went at a young age. I realized that…I learned a few things in past few years

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

Douglas – You got to do what you got to do to survive and live. I had a tent with a little pathway with flowers growing on each side on it…I had an inverter, tractor battery…I played video games in my tent…really can be not that big of a deal right..so long as you are not leaving garbage and all that…The owner let me stay there for about 4 months after he found me. Independence is nice ..not having to pay bills, not having taxes, not having ….there’s a lot to be said for living off the grid.

Nancy – How did you do you make money?

Douglas – I was into the harder drugs… cars, fraud…any which way….you’re being asked to survive, to eat, to drink, to have to use to pay something at a store, restaurant…it’s costing money to do anything normal nowadays…being off the grid, being around people who are there to live and enjoy life…it’s kind of hard to explain ..it’s a different world…there is a lot of suffering…but in that suffering…a lot of people find unity.

Nancy – How did you feed yourself?

Douglas – There’s always churches and free food…if you were really starving enough you go into Vancouver…you’d have 8 or 9 soup kitchens running at any given time….you could stuff yourself full and then come out back to Surrey and last another 3-4 days doing  whatever it is you do…always food available.

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

Douglas – Right now with the health conditions I have…not very much.  Basically wait til I have time with my daughter or my family on weekends. I work at a couple people places doing backyard landscaping…working on a shed …for under the table work.

Nancy – Are you on welfare?

Douglas – Yep Disability

Nancy – Did they help you find a place to live?

Douglas – Not really, no…they don’t find…they will give you a piece of paper…Here’s where to look on the Internet.. .Look here, Look there…and that’s about it…but they’re not really …there’s no branch that helps people find a place to live.

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

Douglas – Watching my kids grow up…family…trying to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes I did. Mostly my kids, my daughter.

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

Douglas – I made it really convenient and easy …I had video games and everything in it. The hardest part is being uprooted and moved…right? You get a little pad going, you’re not causing any other problems, living garbage behind which a lot of camps do… I get it. Hardest part of being homeless is mostly people not understanding why people are homeless.

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

Douglas – Transportation is a big one…also there’s not very many people helping people look for places except pointing in the direction of where the cheap income level housing is…usually they are all full up..and there’s lists waiting….people just get tired of waiting…just end up getting a tent, finding a quiet spot and like, camping…away from all the noise.

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

Douglas – Just getting by, making money. Challenging part of the day is not feeling accepted….it was just walking around, living life..and not being one of…being looked as…you know because of my history, my record. Nobody really wanted to give me a hand.

Nancy – Did you stay in a homeless camp?

Douglas – Oh yeah…few times

Nancy – Was it safer?

Douglas – In a homeless camp, unless you were suicidal and went after somebody who had friends there or whatever…they’d turn on you but the camaraderie is so thick…that you wouldn’t go to one of those camps if you weren’t liked by even not one of them…you just wouldn’t go there. Not a safe place if you are not liked.

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

Douglas – Aldergrove, Langley, Surrey…yeah..I’ve known homeless people for many many years…and still do.

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

Douglas – Loyalty…we stick together as far as people who do.

Nancy – Tell us something no one knows about you…something people wouldn’t know?

Douglas – When I was a young teenager, was sent to a home up in Lumby and preaching at a pulpit…for about a year and a half…so I could almost recite the Bible except for some of the psalms but I know my religion but most people would never believe that I’m religious…not many people know.

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

Douglas – Everybody’s the same…that’s the biggest problem…Everybody has a story…everybody coming from a different angle…people coming into jail with mental problems when they shut down Riverview…a lot of these mental places that are designed for them.. A lot of them were coming into jail…you know I felt bad…these are people who are getting picked on by the unit. Guys that shouldn’t be in there…should be getting mental help…I get why they go to the streets…if there is no mental help, addictions awareness or help for them….where they are reaching out and getting these people…it just interblends with people who have depression…it’s a bad mix.

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Douglas – Being a kid…not having to worry about these adult things…problems…just being carefree

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

Douglas – People need to be empathetic for where they come from…their backgrounds and identity where they are coming from…if they are depressed, if they have mental problems and give people help

Nancy – What about programs for Homeless?  Places for them to go during the day…for homeless people?

Douglas – Where could come and talk.. People on call if you wanted to look for work, employment, do your resume ..kind of intermixing with just a calmer atmosphere…come chill with they wanted…without having to be moved along or shoved along or shuffled along or told they were loitering…can’t really congregate…so I mean…it’s kind of a Catch 22…you want in the middle of town but people don’t want that.

Nancy – What would have changed your life?

Douglass – What would have changed my life is knowing earlier why I was going on to the path I was going to…lot of it stems from my youth..it was my ego.

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Douglas – Right now I am getting as much help as I can..right now I am dealing with health issues…with hypertension….I was pretty well dying last year…and this year is all about recovery…I’m breathing well now so now my biggest thing is staying alive…I want to watch my daughter grow up a little longer…I never really realized life could be better and has been.

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Douglas – Back then, it was everything. I’ve done everything from Up – there’s speed, cocaine, heroin and injecting, to snorting it to smoking…now I just smoke pot. You get 25 years of scars from all that…you learn…you tend to be once bitten, twice shy….I’ve been chewed on for 25 years…I think I’ve had enough but I do smoke my weed

Nancy – What did they do for you?

Douglas – Depends on what drug…heroin is a depressant, mellows you out…helps you forget…people have some painful history. Cocaine is an upper…it just speeds you up…depending how you did it…smoking it, snorting it…do different things…it depends…one’s an upper…one’s a downer…Speed is just energy…people tend to stay up for 7 days straight on it…start going squirrelly

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day for you?

Douglas – Now? Seeing my daughter.

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

Douglas – Other people…opinions that are so far off…you don’t want to be rude but you’re stuck listening to it but it’s just verbal diarrhea…aside from that I don’t let things stress me out anymore.

Nancy – Thinking back to when you were staying in a tent or even couch surfing, how did you get food, water, shower, do your laundry?

Douglas – People get to their bottom…you get hungry, that’s a pain … really really feel…everything is so expensive..so yeah…they steal…they busk…they ask people for change at the bus…

Nancy – How did you keep safe?

Douglas -Don’t be in areas that are dangerous

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Douglas – Yes I do…quite a few…couldn’t even touch base on that.

Nancy – Do you think people really want to solve the homelessness ?

Douglas – Of course, everybody… they want to end suffering.

Nancy – What does the future look like?

Douglas – For the amount of time, I have left with my daughter..it’s better than all those years going through all that…25 years of jail time…being homeless…all of that

Nancy – What are your hopes and wishes for yourself?

Douglas – I want to leave this life without any debts to my kids…just for my children and family to be happy

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

Douglas – Right now I have my stuff…but back then…13 different places…some people do circuits…I’d stop at 4 or 5 different places…all over the place…have stuff everywhere…with people you trust…you’re sort of spread out.

Nancy – Whats was your last steady job?

Douglas – Over at the temporary agency…Labor Unlimited…pay by day

Nancy – How long ago was it?

Douglas – I got really sick last year, so probably a year before that. 2 years ago, 2.5 years ago.

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

Douglas – A work in progress

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

Douglas – It’s been a hell of a long mile, long run….there should be a little bit more empathy and a little bit more touching base with people in programs about recovery and that…homelessness issue..they are going to have to address the addiction issue and separate people who are depressed from people who have mental instabilities..issues that need to be addressed and packing everybody into one side of town is not the greatest idea…would be better to have few people that are in low rent housing in different communities…lot of work to do

Nancy – Any final thoughts?

Doug – Don’t judge everybody by the cover…a lot of people have gone through a lot…and people don’t see that…it’s easy to judge a guy sitting in a ditch and think he couldn’t make it…there are a lot of free thinkers out there who want to do their own thing.

Nancy – Thank you so much for telling your story

Lorretta’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018 Leave a comment

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.

Troy’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018 Leave a comment

Troy, a member of Diverse Organization Providing Education and Regional Services (DOPERS) in Langley 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. I’m here asking some questions for the Homelessness Action Week…we want  stories of our members.

Nancy – What’s your name?

Troy – Troy

Nancy – Do you have any Nicknames?

Troy – No

Nancy – How old are you?

Troy – I’m 49

Nancy – Where’s your hometown? Where are you from?

Troy – I was born in Prince George

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Troy – Lately it has been in Surrey/Langley and I spent a lot of time growing up in the federal prison system

Nancy -Are you homeless?

Troy – I am..although I am staying in a shelter.

Nancy – How did that start?

Troy – It started when I got out of jail…I did not have enough money nor did I pass any of the interviews for some of the places I was trying to rent.

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Troy – About a year now

Nancy –  What did you do before you came here?

Troy – For the most part, I’ve been in prison most of my life if you can believe it…I’ve served 22 years Federal but since the last few years I’ve decided…you know I’ve had enough of that…I’d rather be free in the gutter rather than locked up like an animal.

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Troy – About Langley? I notice that there’s a lot of homeless people, a huge amount of homeless people…very little service. Some of the looks I get…I don’t know…is it that obvious? That I’m homeless…that I’m an addict?

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Troy – The people you’re with..the theft from each other…I can’t stand it..I just wish I had a home….work from there…try and prove to my family…that I’m not a bad person…

Nancy – Where do you live right now?

Troy – I’m staying in a shelter

Nancy – Where do you sleep at night?

Troy – Shelter

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Troy – Not so much in the community

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Troy – Yeah..they don’t want much to do with me tho

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

Troy – I feel like a failure

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

Troy – Well as I said…I live in a shelter…I’m not hungry but I have been in the past…I would steal and I get a bit of money from the government…not enough to rent a place or anything

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

Troy – Yeah it does..my last two phones got stolen so I don’t have a phone….that’s a big one…have to have a phone..for the trade I’m in…electrical..you need a car too.

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

Troy – No, not at all…

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

Troy – Nothing…just repetition I guess.

Nancy – Have you been living in an tent?

Troy – I’ve done the odd week

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding a place to live?

Troy – Places that are willing to rent to a person like me, so availability is a huge thing and income…my income is too low.

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

Troy – When I’m not busy I think…I think about what I don’t have…and I think about how I’m going to live… A lot

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

Troy – yeah

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

Troy – Some of them do and some of them victimize them….some people are homeless and they will give you anything you ask for if they have it…and that’s probably one of the things that keep me going…is people like that…people like you guys.

Nancy – Can you tell us something about yourself that no one knows about you?

Troy – My favorite color is blue.

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

Troy – That we don’t try..that we’re useless

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Troy – My family..being a man who had a family you know…I don’t have any kids…it hurts…

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

Troy – They need to be living in safe homes…there needs to be a couple blocks of city…here you go. We need our politicians to actually do the things that they say they want to do….they so do not do that. I know it’s hard…it’s a huge issue…but there is so much that could be done so easily.

Nancy – Are there places to go during the day?

Troy – Langley has nothing in terms of feeding their homeless…it’s pathetic

Nancy – What would have changed your life?

Troy – Having a father probably would have changed…Having a mother who knew how to be a parent…you know I love my mom…but yeah just having a family

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Troy – Having a job and a place to live again and my addiction would have to be a little bit more under control which it is now…I’ve gotten a lot more healthier over the past few months.

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Troy –  I love heroin. I love cocaine. I love speed.

Nancy – What do they do for you?

Troy – They give me energy…they take away the pain…they make you feel warm for a minute

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day?

Troy – I don’t know

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

Troy – Having no money to do things…you want to go for coffee or something…you can’t..but it’s really hard sometimes…going back to jail…at least I have a place to live.

Nancy – How do you stay healthy?

Troy – Try to eat everyday and sleep everyday

Nancy – How do you keep safe?

Troy – I don’t do things that would cause me…that would cause other people to want to harm me..I take advantage of safe injection site when I’m using….and being in a shelter …not being on the streets all night helps too.

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Troy – Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Nancy – What is the best part of your day?

Troy – When I go to sleep.

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

Troy – Some people do.

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

Troy – Get a place to live that’s affordable

Nancy – Where do you keep your belongings?

Troy – For the most part, I carry a lot on me or in the locker.

Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Troy – Last Winter I cooked for a few months

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

Troy – In a recovery house…which is not really a home.

Nancy – Can you give me one sentence to sum up your current situation?

Troy – I want to do everything I can to spread the word to try and help others who have a hard time talking and speaking up.

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

Troy – Care about the people who are the smallest, not the biggest

Nancy – Do you have any final thoughts?

Troy – I wanted to go back over the final question…What’s something that people don’t know about me?  I was raped when I was a kid…when I was 10 years old…just don’t think that we’re people you know…who had what we wanted growing up and just threw it away…it’s not the case.. I would like to say too…Anybody who is willing to actually live up to their promise, please help us because we need it. Your society needs it. And it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s not yet getting any better…it’s getting worse

Nancy – Troy, I want to really thank you for sharing your story today

Cheri’s Homeless Story for Homelessness Action Week 2018

October 7, 2018 Leave a comment

Cheri, 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 with some of our friends asking questions for the Homelessness Action Week…we want their stories

Nancy –  What’s your Name?

Cheri – My name is Cheri

Nancy – Do you have a nickname?

Cheri – CherBear

Nancy – How old are you?

Cheri – 44

Nancy – Where’s your hometown?

Cheri –  from Surrey

Nancy – What city do you mostly stay in?

Cheri – In Surrey

Nancy – Are you homeless?

Cheri – Currently no, but a few months ago I was.

Nancy – How did that start?

Cheri – The City coming in and shutting down our house…telling us..”Oh Well…Sorry!”…basically throwing us on the street overnight.

Nancy – How Long Have You been Homeless?

Cheri – First time I was homeless, it was for 5 years.

Nancy – Tell us about your journey?

Cheri – The first time I was homeless, I eventually lost everything…I lost my husband at the time…I lost my kids..my home…everything

Nancy – What do you notice about this city?

Cheri – You can’t get a break to save your life in terms of the cost of housing is just outrageous and there’s nothing available to rent….and if you’re homeless…you’ve pretty much got this stigma attached that you’re a horrible person…any place you do go look at…you can tell by the look on their face as soon as they open the door . they’re not going to give you a chance.

Nancy – How hard is it to be homeless?

Cheri – It’s extremely hard…I mean especially as a woman…it’s even harder…there’s the normal risks of being alone out there..even if you are with a partner. You have to worry about people taking action against you…I’ve had people chase me…I got stabbed last summer by some guy who tried to rob me….it’s a scary place…and then you have to deal with bylaws and the cops…it’s a very very hard situation because they don’t care what you have to say or what your situation is…they consider you all the same…you’re not judged as a person as an individual person…they judge you as a group

Nancy – Where do you live now?

Cheri – I’m staying in a rooming house

Nancy – Do you feel safe on the streets?

Cheri – I’m more worried about my safety with strangers…like I said last summer…some guy tried to rob me and stab me…that’s a scary place to be especially for a woman.

Nancy – Do you have any family?

Cheri – Yeah I do have family but I don’t speak with them.

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

Cheri – It’s hard..it’s a constant struggle.. It’s nerve wracking. It’s frustrating and some day it’s hopeless.

Nancy – How do you do you make money? How do you come up with money to feed yourself?

Cheri – I would go out binning or go pick bottles…it was hard.

Nancy – What do you do to get by?

Cheri – Now I work..have a job…but before…it was whatever to make money.

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

Cheri – When you don’t have a way of showering everyday…you don’t have electricity to run an alarm clock…it’s really really hard to keep a schedule…to even keep a job when you are completely homeless.. It’s hard

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

Cheri – No,I had to look for it myself

Nancy – What do you look forward to each day?

Cheri – Hot shower everyday

Nancy – What keeps you going?

Cheri – My kids

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

Cheri – Not knowing whether if we were able to keep our thing…not knowing whether or not Bylaw was going to take everything from us or other people would come and steal from us

Nancy – What is the biggest roadblock to finding shelter,  finding a house?

Cheri – People judging…it always seems there is a stigma attached everywhere I go….you go near a bin, automatically you are a homeless person and they start to be rude. A lot of people are very very rude.

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

Cheri – Just getting through it

Nancy – What was it like in the homeless camp?

Cheri – It was hard…most of the time that we were down there, it was during the winter time and the rainy season..it was very difficult to even stay warm.

Nancy – Was it safer?

Cheri – Yeah I think it was in our camp…we had friends that were close enough by..if we needed help…they were close enough by.

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

Cheri – Most people that I knew that were homeless, they did get into modulars but there are still a lot of people out there…and it’s hard…it’s a difficult place to be.

Nancy – Do you feel there is a sense of community among the homeless ?

Cheri – I don’t think so …as much right now…as there was before…because there was sense of we all trying to survive…there was more of a sense that you felt safe..you could walk down the street and knew you were safe because there were people who were going to watch..if anything happened they would step up. Now everybody is so scattered…the feeling of family and community is gone

Nancy – Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody else knows?

Cheri – I’m terrified of being alone.

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

Cheri – That we’re all bad people…that we’re all criminals…drug addicts

Nancy – What do you miss most?

Cheri – Being able to relax

Nancy – What needs to be done for the homeless?

Cheri – There needs to be more housing…more funding or something   . something needs to be done…so they can feel a sense of hope…there is no hope out there

Nancy – What about programs?

Cheri – All the resources that were avail have been taken away..the dinners at the Front Room…The Front Room…that was a place people could go and sit and relax and be able to breathe for a few minutes…they knew there was a meal there everyday at dinner time and they knew that they could connect with orher people and they could also connect with a housing worker …whatever they needed, they could get there. They don’t have that anymore.

Nancy – What would have changed your life?

Cheri – It’s hard to say

Nancy – What would help you overcome your challenges?

Cheri – Pople to be more understanding about where we’re coming from

Nancy – What is your drug of choice?

Cheri – speed

Nancy – How do you manage that? What does it do for you?

Cheri – It keeps me going…it keeps me awake and it’s hard

Nancy – What is the highlight of the day?

Cheri – Right now, going home and being able to cook a meal in my kitchen

Nancy –  Stressful situations that you encounter on a daily basis?

Cheri – My landlord is in the hospital…we don’t know if he is going to make it, so we don’t know if our housing is secure or for how long…I could very well end up homeless

Nancy – How do you keep healthy?

Cheri – I try to properly and eat proper amounts of food…go bike riding…I do a lot of walking…and I take vitamins.

Nancy – How do you keep safe?

Cheri – I carry a weapon ever since last summer..it’s the only way to feel safe.

Nancy – Do you have any beliefs you live by?

Cheri – I try to stay true to myself and to my moral standard that I grew up with

Nancy – What is the best part of your day?

Cheri – Being able to go home

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

Cheri – Sometimes I wonder about politicans and their promises and all this stuff…never coming through with it…with what they say they are going to do but I mean…there are some people I think that they do want it to end.

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

Cheri – That I’m able to keep housing and go day by day
Nancy – What was your last steady job?

Cheri – I’m a peer support worker

Nancy – Do you have any kids?

Cheri – Yes I have two

Nancy –  One sentence to sum up your current situation?

Cheri – Struggling

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

Cheri – Something needs to be done now, not tomorrow

Nancy – Final thoughts? What do you wish to see happen?

Cheri – Need more housing available because that is the biggest obstacle right now..there’s not enough…there’s not enough available…not enough places for people to rent

Nancy – Thank you very much for sharing your story with us. I really appreciate.