‘Country’ has been living on the street for more than three years. He’s one of many street homeless members of PTH who had been described as “service resistant” by city agencies. Thanks to our intervention, he’s in a room now, and trying to get back on his feet – and fighting to stop the cops from violating the rights of his homeless brothers and sisters.
Here’s what he has to say to people who call him and his friends “service resistant.”
Every homeless person I know wants housing. Everybody wants help. We’re trying to better our situations, but they’ve got us jumping through so many hoops that people get frustrated. I understand if people are angry, or want to get messed up. Because what other options do we have?
Case workers come, but they don’t help us. They say they will, but then they say they have to see you every week for two months before they can do anything. Why are you making me wait? Anything can happen in those two months – people get locked up, get sick, get stabbed, get robbed. And the police are harassing us really badly. They’ll do anything to move us out of public space. They’re nasty about it. We get treated with no respect. Only reason I’m in a room now is because Picture the Homeless vouched for me. Nikita worked with me to make sure case workers could find me. Nobody else is out here helping us.
Now that I’m off the street and starting to get stable, I can get back on my feet. I’m a working person. I have all kinds of certifications – OSHA, security, food handler’s license – but I lost all of my paperwork. In the shelter, the staff threw my belongings away. In the streets, people steal it, or the cops destroy it.
You hear so many stories about the shelter, people getting killed, people getting robbed. That’s why people don’t want to go into them. What we need is housing. That’s the bottom line. There’s not enough places for us, and the ones that are out there take forever to get into. Meanwhile, people are dying.