Interviews

 

Antenika and Jukari – Sacramento, California

I was in a house for 18 months, paid my rent and everything and then my landlord decided to sell every single one of their properties. So, that's kinda how I became homeless. Because I wasn't able to find a place after that...and I've been house hopping ever since. Then just the beginning of this year is when I started sleeping in my car, with my babies. I was sleeping in the car from January to March. A friend of mine told me about the Next Move program. I see it as a second chance...I don't know where I would be right now...I was really starting to fall apart.

 

 

 

Larry – San Francisco, California

I was in a flat on Green Street with 3 old timers. We were evicted four years ago. I went to high school in Marin County at Drake. I’ve been in San Francisco off and on since 1959. I spent 8 years in San Diego and many years in L.A. I was a stationary engineer, local 39.

I was staying in a flea bag hotel and decided that I’m not going to do that anymore. I started sleeping out because I would rather have the money to eat and try staying in some of these free places which are really not that bad if you’re a senior. They segregate you from the regular crowd and oh ho, there is more mental illness in this city than they realize.

I was sleeping in the park. Brandon who works here said come on down here and we talked. I think it took about 10 months and I filled out application after application and I finally got into the Apollo Hotel on 15th and Valencia.

It’s 30% of my Social Security which is more than reasonable. They have a community kitchen, I’ve got one of those little things to make toast in the morning, so, it’s pretty good. But of course, one of the things to get into that hotel is you had to have been homeless. It’s the only way I got in.

 

 

Raul – Coos Bay, Oregon

I am on disability. By the time I pay my bills and stuff, my money is gone.

I used to drive forklifts in packing houses. I think I was 21 when I started driving forklift. When I was thirty to forty years old I fell off a forklift and hurt myself. They laid me off after that. It got to where I couldn't stand it anymore. My back was hurting, I had two or three operations on my back already. It didn't do no good. I wish it would have done good, it didn't. Made it worse.

I'd wish I could find me a job around here. Sometimes I get tired of sitting around at home doing nothing. My problem is that I don't know how to read or write too good. I wouldn't mind going back to school to learn something you know because it's embarrassing. I enjoyed driving forklift, it was my favorite job. I did it for many years. Like right now I don't have much food at the house, so I told my son I'm gonna  go get some of that free food, I'm out of just about everything. This helps.

 

 

Ralph – San Francisco, California

Born and raised in SF. Family of 9, big family. Pretty much raised by my mom. So even though she had a lot of kids she provided for all 9 of us. It was pretty rough coming up. Drugs came into the picture, and I kinda became homeless. I was homeless for just about maybe 25 years or 20 years. Long time. I used to stay in the parks. Lotta cars, abandoned cars a lot.

And then one day I came to the center. Fred came and got me he said the citizens was gonna open up a place right here. 15 years ago maybe 20 years ago. Got me a spot. Got me off the street. Made sure I had food and place to stay. Helped not just me but a lot of people like that. First time I took it for granted. Got me some ideas, it was rolling but I was impatient I ended going to jail and I got out of jail and I said I'm gonna go back there and do whatever they tell me to do. They got me a place to stay, got me some food.  I owe this all to North Beach citizens. They did a good job, helped a lot of people.

 

 

Marquita – San Francisco, California

I'm not a bad person. I've just had bad things happen to me.

I had a stalker. Someone that I met that stalked me and he eventually tried to kill me. I came here to work for two years and to go to school in Portland. I was going to become a physical therapist. I was making a lot of money, I was doing really well. I had a place in the lower Haight, it was really low rent.

Everything's good and then I met this guy. He got me fired from both my jobs, got me kicked out of my house because of him stalking me. Eventually he tried to kill me. That was 15 years ago. It's been this gradual process, I''d grown up being a worker bee my whole life, but trying to get my way out of it has been hard, really hard. I want to work. It's hard because I can't, but then I'm set in these situations or these positions to try and get better.

I was put on disability finally for trauma and PTSD. It's been a blessing, but even that's stressful because it's another system. Like right now I am up for review, I might lose my disability and if that happens, I don't know what's going to happen to me, I might end up on the street again.

 

 

David, Belting, Tyler, and Michael – Sacramento, California

I never thought about why people are homeless until it started to happen to us.

Six years ago he got laid off, he was making really good money. Our finances kept dropping and dropping, he would find side work and odd jobs and stay busy as a handyman, but we have five sons. These are just two of them, the other three are with my daughter right now because she is right by their school, so they can be in school. We just recently became homeless, right before we were homeless our car broke down. I mean if you have only $120 or $200 a week on your paycheck, trying to raise a family of seven, you can’t do it

Next Move, I have to tell you I will volunteer here the rest of my life. We came here… we’ve just been here two weeks. We had nothing when we got here, we had the truck and the few possessions that we have in it. As of today, I start work later in the week at the health care center down the road, he starts doing contracting work with a contractor here in the area.

When we came here, they told us just come as you are, you don’t need anything we will take care of all your needs as a long as you go by our program… It’s looking up, it’s looking up. Sometimes you just need a little bit of help.

 

 

Stacy – Santa Rosa, California

I have spent 18 months looking for work. I lived off of my savings. I look for jobs everyday. I have applied for work at Walmart, Lucky, Safeway, and many more places. If something doesn't come up in the next week, I don't know what I'll do. We may have to move to San Diego to live with my sister.

My son who is 21 leaves next week for the Marines boot camp. My daughter is 17 and lives with me. I've been living in fight or flight mode. I'm not out there looking for trouble, I'm looking for life.

 

 

masa – San Francisco, California

I was a drug addict. I was a successful cosmetologist, and I started making money. It was mostly cash money. So I started buying cocaine and became addicted. And this was back in the 90s. And naturally I lost all my money and the business and my family so I became homeless. And I was happy to be homeless because I thought “If I don’t have any money, I will not buy drugs.” So I was a happy camper. So sure enough I kicked my drug habit within about two years.

Back in 2002 I saw in the paper an application for a housing program so I took a chance. So I filled out a form and applied for it, and six months later they sent me a letter and I got a section 8. And that was the last section 8 program by the government. For over ten years there’s been no federal section 8 program, for over ten years. When I got my housing that was the first tip of social contact. It’s so different. I have a place now for ten years. Otherwise I don’t know if I could survive, I would be dead.

 

 

Linda – Santa Rosa, California.

Redwood Empire Food Bank. Food Distribution.

I had worked as a secretary and had to stop working due to carpal tunnel caused by all the typing I had done. I am now retired with social security and disability. The last few years have been hard...thank god this is here, otherwise I'd be hungry for the rest of the month.

 

 

 

Johnny – San Francisco, California

Well it was like this: I was engaged to get married and the girl that I was with, she left me for dead, and when I say she left me for dead, I mean she took everything that I had and left me on the streets. We were gonna get married. That was about 6 or 7 years ago. I lost my job and my housing and winded up back on the street. Construction, landscaping, maintenance, roofing, tree trimmer, janitorial, you name it I was doing it. Until I fell off a roof and that’s when it got all down hill. I dislocated my lower back and I can’t lift nothing over 20 pounds. It is what it is. I got some workman’s compensation until it ran out.

 

 

Bonnie – Rohnert Park, California

My Daughter had brain surgery. She can't work and lives with me.

Once a month I come to the food bank here. It's a great program and has been very helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

Rick – Whitefish, Montana

My Years ago, I volunteered at the food bank when it was across from the VFW. I installed all the cabinets with a friend and the counter tops. Right now I volunteer at the Soroptimist thrift shop, I get a kick out of that.

I'm an electrical engineer. I can't find a freaking job and it really sucks. I wheel and deal and do this, that, and the other.

I've been here seven years. I live in a tent in the woods which is fine. I like it. There are some really loving caring people here. Here at Sheppard's Hand Lutheran Church they have a  supper on Monday nights and free health care.

My life is good. Even though, you know, I'm in poverty, I get my social security check and I'm really generous with my money. I even paid for a hobo to take Amtrak back to Washington state, $176 bucks but I  feel good about it. Oh yeah, he said “ when I get back there, I'll send you money.” Of course I didn't ...you never give away any more than you expect you'll never get back.

 

 

 

© 2018 Owen Kahn All Rights Reserved

Interviews

 

Antenika and Jukari – Sacramento, California

I was in a house for 18 months, paid my rent and everything and then my landlord decided to sell every single one of their properties. So, that's kinda how I became homeless. Because I wasn't able to find a place after that...and I've been house hopping ever since. Then just the beginning of this year is when I started sleeping in my car, with my babies. I was sleeping in the car from January to March. A friend of mine told me about the Next Move program. I see it as a second chance...I don't know where I would be right now...I was really starting to fall apart.

 

 

 

Larry – San Francisco, California

I was in a flat on Green Street with 3 old timers. We were evicted four years ago. I went to high school in Marin County at Drake. I’ve been in San Francisco off and on since 1959. I spent 8 years in San Diego and many years in L.A. I was a stationary engineer, local 39.

I was staying in a flea bag hotel and decided that I’m not going to do that anymore. I started sleeping out because I would rather have the money to eat and try staying in some of these free places which are really not that bad if you’re a senior. They segregate you from the regular crowd and oh ho, there is more mental illness in this city than they realize.

I was sleeping in the park. Brandon who works here said come on down here and we talked. I think it took about 10 months and I filled out application after application and I finally got into the Apollo Hotel on 15th and Valencia.

It’s 30% of my Social Security which is more than reasonable. They have a community kitchen, I’ve got one of those little things to make toast in the morning, so, it’s pretty good. But of course, one of the things to get into that hotel is you had to have been homeless. It’s the only way I got in.

 

 

Raul – Coos Bay, Oregon

I am on disability. By the time I pay my bills and stuff, my money is gone.

I used to drive forklifts in packing houses. I think I was 21 when I started driving forklift. When I was thirty to forty years old I fell off a forklift and hurt myself. They laid me off after that. It got to where I couldn't stand it anymore. My back was hurting, I had two or three operations on my back already. It didn't do no good. I wish it would have done good, it didn't. Made it worse.

I'd wish I could find me a job around here. Sometimes I get tired of sitting around at home doing nothing. My problem is that I don't know how to read or write too good. I wouldn't mind going back to school to learn something you know because it's embarrassing. I enjoyed driving forklift, it was my favorite job. I did it for many years. Like right now I don't have much food at the house, so I told my son I'm gonna  go get some of that free food, I'm out of just about everything. This helps.

 

 

Ralph – San Francisco, California

Born and raised in SF. Family of 9, big family. Pretty much raised by my mom. So even though she had a lot of kids she provided for all 9 of us. It was pretty rough coming up. Drugs came into the picture, and I kinda became homeless. I was homeless for just about maybe 25 years or 20 years. Long time. I used to stay in the parks. Lotta cars, abandoned cars a lot.

And then one day I came to the center. Fred came and got me he said the citizens was gonna open up a place right here. 15 years ago maybe 20 years ago. Got me a spot. Got me off the street. Made sure I had food and place to stay. Helped not just me but a lot of people like that. First time I took it for granted. Got me some ideas, it was rolling but I was impatient I ended going to jail and I got out of jail and I said I'm gonna go back there and do whatever they tell me to do. They got me a place to stay, got me some food.  I owe this all to North Beach citizens. They did a good job, helped a lot of people.

 

 

Marquita – San Francisco, California

I'm not a bad person. I've just had bad things happen to me.

I had a stalker. Someone that I met that stalked me and he eventually tried to kill me. I came here to work for two years and to go to school in Portland. I was going to become a physical therapist. I was making a lot of money, I was doing really well. I had a place in the lower Haight, it was really low rent.

Everything's good and then I met this guy. He got me fired from both my jobs, got me kicked out of my house because of him stalking me. Eventually he tried to kill me. That was 15 years ago. It's been this gradual process, I''d grown up being a worker bee my whole life, but trying to get my way out of it has been hard, really hard. I want to work. It's hard because I can't, but then I'm set in these situations or these positions to try and get better.

I was put on disability finally for trauma and PTSD. It's been a blessing, but even that's stressful because it's another system. Like right now I am up for review, I might lose my disability and if that happens, I don't know what's going to happen to me, I might end up on the street again.

 

 

David, Belting, Tyler, and Michael – Sacramento, California

I never thought about why people are homeless until it started to happen to us.

Six years ago he got laid off, he was making really good money. Our finances kept dropping and dropping, he would find side work and odd jobs and stay busy as a handyman, but we have five sons. These are just two of them, the other three are with my daughter right now because she is right by their school, so they can be in school. We just recently became homeless, right before we were homeless our car broke down. I mean if you have only $120 or $200 a week on your paycheck, trying to raise a family of seven, you can’t do it

Next Move, I have to tell you I will volunteer here the rest of my life. We came here… we’ve just been here two weeks. We had nothing when we got here, we had the truck and the few possessions that we have in it. As of today, I start work later in the week at the health care center down the road, he starts doing contracting work with a contractor here in the area.

When we came here, they told us just come as you are, you don’t need anything we will take care of all your needs as a long as you go by our program… It’s looking up, it’s looking up. Sometimes you just need a little bit of help.

 

 

Stacy – Santa Rosa, California

I have spent 18 months looking for work. I lived off of my savings. I look for jobs everyday. I have applied for work at Walmart, Lucky, Safeway, and many more places. If something doesn't come up in the next week, I don't know what I'll do. We may have to move to San Diego to live with my sister.

My son who is 21 leaves next week for the Marines boot camp. My daughter is 17 and lives with me. I've been living in fight or flight mode. I'm not out there looking for trouble, I'm looking for life.

 

 

masa – San Francisco, California

I was a drug addict. I was a successful cosmetologist, and I started making money. It was mostly cash money. So I started buying cocaine and became addicted. And this was back in the 90s. And naturally I lost all my money and the business and my family so I became homeless. And I was happy to be homeless because I thought “If I don’t have any money, I will not buy drugs.” So I was a happy camper. So sure enough I kicked my drug habit within about two years.

Back in 2002 I saw in the paper an application for a housing program so I took a chance. So I filled out a form and applied for it, and six months later they sent me a letter and I got a section 8. And that was the last section 8 program by the government. For over ten years there’s been no federal section 8 program, for over ten years. When I got my housing that was the first tip of social contact. It’s so different. I have a place now for ten years. Otherwise I don’t know if I could survive, I would be dead.

 

 

Linda – Santa Rosa, California.

Redwood Empire Food Bank. Food Distribution.

I had worked as a secretary and had to stop working due to carpal tunnel caused by all the typing I had done. I am now retired with social security and disability. The last few years have been hard...thank god this is here, otherwise I'd be hungry for the rest of the month.

 

 

 

Johnny – San Francisco, California

Well it was like this: I was engaged to get married and the girl that I was with, she left me for dead, and when I say she left me for dead, I mean she took everything that I had and left me on the streets. We were gonna get married. That was about 6 or 7 years ago. I lost my job and my housing and winded up back on the street. Construction, landscaping, maintenance, roofing, tree trimmer, janitorial, you name it I was doing it. Until I fell off a roof and that’s when it got all down hill. I dislocated my lower back and I can’t lift nothing over 20 pounds. It is what it is. I got some workman’s compensation until it ran out.

 

 

Bonnie – Rohnert Park, California

My Daughter had brain surgery. She can't work and lives with me.

Once a month I come to the food bank here. It's a great program and has been very helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

Rick – Whitefish, Montana

My Years ago, I volunteered at the food bank when it was across from the VFW. I installed all the cabinets with a friend and the counter tops. Right now I volunteer at the Soroptimist thrift shop, I get a kick out of that.

I'm an electrical engineer. I can't find a freaking job and it really sucks. I wheel and deal and do this, that, and the other.

I've been here seven years. I live in a tent in the woods which is fine. I like it. There are some really loving caring people here. Here at Sheppard's Hand Lutheran Church they have a  supper on Monday nights and free health care.

My life is good. Even though, you know, I'm in poverty, I get my social security check and I'm really generous with my money. I even paid for a hobo to take Amtrak back to Washington state, $176 bucks but I  feel good about it. Oh yeah, he said “ when I get back there, I'll send you money.” Of course I didn't ...you never give away any more than you expect you'll never get back.