Homeless No More

Posted: July 29, 2010 in homelessness, interviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I recently had the opportunity to interview a young woman by the name of Christy, (Not her real name) who had spent many years living on the streets.  Looking at this attractive young woman who is a department manager at a drug store chain in California, it’s hard to imagine that at one time she was counted among those surviving on the streets by any means possible.

After making some bad decisions she embarked on a dark journey that many of us would not recover from. She has not only recovered, but is thriving with a zest for life that many will never attain.

WFTS:  What was your life like while you were homeless?

Christy:  When I was 23 years old I fell in love with a guy named (We’ll call him Brian) who I thought was  brilliant but didn’t have the drive or motivation to get a regular job. He wanted to be a salesman and make a lot of fast money. Unfortunately for me, because of his charm and natural salesman ability, I believed everything he said and followed him wherever he went. After Brian lost his job things just went from bad to worse. We lost our car, our friends, until we found ourselves on the street. We would walk everywhere. We sometimes would have blisters on our shoulders and feet from carrying heavy bags while walking all over LA.

WFTS: Wasn’t there shelters available?

Christy:  The shelter we stayed at was actually worse than staying on the street.  We didn’t really have any resources. So we went to the Department of Health and Human Services to get food stamps and stuff and they gave us vouchers to stay at the Skid Row shelter in Hollywood. Skid Row is well known for its drug addicts and alcoholics; mostly crack heads. It was really scary, so I don’t know why the DHHS sent us there. The whole place reeked of urine and vomit.  I’m really small and Brian was really tall so we really stuck out when we walked into the shelter.

Some of the people there wanted to eat me up and the other ones wanted to beat up Brian and steal me for themselves. There was one side for men and the other side for women; so me and Brian had to stay on separate sides.

I had this tiny box of a room, but it was cool. While I was there we were told to keep our rooms clean and they would do random room checks to make sure our rooms were up to par. There was a guy, who I think was the director, called me into his office and told me that I had to leave because my room was not clean enough and then he propositioned me. I was so naïve that I didn’t understand what he was talking about at first. He told me that I had to leave, “unless I did something for him.”  After a while he made it very plain what that “something” was. I left his office screaming and I tried to report him but no one would believe me. So I waited outside the men’s side of the shelter for over an hour until Brian came out. Fortunately he believed me and we left and went to Long Beach.

WFTS: How did that work for you?

Christy:   Long Beach was nicer.  Since we didn’t have any money we had to sneak onto a bus or subway or train, and pretend we had paid. There was a lot of open space in Long Beach and it was safer than Hollywood. There was always a restaurant where we could dine and dash for food. The only bad thing was that it got cold at night and since we didn’t have blankets we would try to find a restaurant on one of the docks that had a heat lamp we could sleep under.

WFTS: Why did you continue to live like that? Didn’t you have family that could help?

Christy:   I think at the time I was too ashamed. My mom didn’t even know that I was once homeless until years later. At the time I was depending on Brian. I tried to get him to go to Labor Ready but he was always waiting for the perfect job so he needed the perfect shirt and perfect suit.

WFTS: So how did you survive?

Christy:   I would go to Labor Ready but a lot of times it wasn’t enough and Brian would always need bus money or money for clothes, or whatever, so I would do things ….things that I’m not proud of;  In order to get money. But I did what I had to do to survive.

WFTS:  Let’s focus now on how things turned around for you. What was it like when you were no longer homeless?

Christy:   Basically it was a slow process. We went from living on the streets to shelters, to motels, to hotels, then to extended stay hotels. When we were living in an extended stay hotel Brian got a really good job that paid over $200,000.00 a year.

WFTS: Wow! That must have made a big difference.

Christy:  Yeah, it did. But the only reason Brian got that job was because of all the things I had to do in order to get the things he needed to get that job.  Clothes, transportation, etc.

The money was nice for a while. And it was fun. I don’t even know if the money we made was legit, but I left Brian soon after he got super rich.

WFTS:  Did it upset you that you went through all of that just to leave it all?

Christy:  No, not really. I have no regrets. I don’t even mind talking about it now. I did at first. I didn’t even tell my mother until later. Now it doesn’t bother me. I’ve had other people help me too. A friend of mine helped me apply online for the job at the drug store chain where I’m now a department manager.

WFTS: It’s amazing that you went from having nothing….

Christy:  Nothing. Not even self esteem.

WFTS: …to where you’re now a manager in a store.

Christy:  It is amazing. It took me 30 years to get something done right, but I got it right. It’s all good now.

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Comments
  1. This post seems to be fantastic and I would achieve some thing or the other from this post. That�s for sure. Thank you for the post and looking more from you.

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