Experiences in Homelessness Part 2
In continuation of Part 1 (read here)
So, arriving back at my father’s, I couldnt stand the sight of it, or him, as these were reminders of how I ended up becoming victim to such experiences. My father, nor my mother, had any interest in helping me, and so I was set back out to the streets.
I lived homeless in several different cities along the west coast. I used drugs and alcohol to cope with my grievances. I believe that if it were not for my relationship with drugs and alcohol during my life on the streets, I would have quite likely committed suicide. Yet I also would not see that as a suicide, but would equate that to murder, victim of bullying. Essentially, that to me, would be considered murder committed by society’s neglect, exploitation and abuse of a defensless homeless young person.
I was in and out of jail often, mostly for trespassing, loitering, panhandling, and other homeless related criminal charges. My previous experience in Chattanooga TN, from Part 1 of this article, was an experience similarly repeated on at least two or more other occassions during my life of homelessness.
During my time as a homeless transition-age-youth, I encountered services for youth and/or transition-age-youth very rarely, and when I did, the services were extremely limited. The only homeless services provided to 18-24 year old homeless that I encountered were those shelters and drop-in-centers designed to serve adults 35 and older. The majority of the people recieving these services were at least 35, but usually older, typically 45-55. Unfortunately, this reality for transition-age homeless, age 18-24 hasnt changed much, even now. Take Sacramento for example.
There are no transition age youth shelters in Sacramento. There is one ‘youth’ shelter for under 18, your typical Salvation Army and other existing shelters that have been here for years, overpopulated and understaffed, and virtually no transition age youth shelters for the 18-24 year old homeless population.
These homeless age 18-25 are the ones who have and continue to flood the Salvation Army and other shelters including Safe Ground, 10 years later at age 28-35, when they are still homeless, largely in part due to the extreme lack of services for the 18-24 year old homeless population.
After about 7 years of chronic homelessness, eating out of dumpsters, strung out on heroin and other drugs, in and out of jails and institutions, etc, I was driven into the system by the courts. I was put on formal probation, subject to random drug testing, and required to have court slips signed by group facilitators, etc. Because of this, I got myself into the Salvation Army shelter, and submitted to these requirements.
From the Salvation Army, I moved into a ‘transitional living progam’, which was a 5 bedroom house with 2 people to a bedroom. I was 27 at the time. All of the men that lived in the house were 50 and older. I had abstained from drugs and alcohol to comply with my probation, and was determined to stay out of jail. When I moved into the house, I realized all the guys living at the house were smoking pot, drinking, and using other hard drugs regularly and openly. They smoked joints on the front porch every morning, smoked pot in the house throughout the day, drank, and lived very drug oriented lifestyles consistently. During the superbowl, they passed a mirror with lines of crystal meth around the living room. They were all very segragative with me, as I didnt do drugs or drink, and they treated me very abusively.