One of the worse experiences a person can endure in his/her life is long-term homelessness. When people think of homeless individuals, people tend to think of drug addicts and panhandlers. What most people donít realize is that there are thousands of homeless people who arenít drug addicts or panhandlers, people who just happen to be less unfortunate with limited opportunities. Although we live in America, the richest and the most powerful country in the world, thereís a lot of people struggling everyday just to make ends meet. Itís even worse when an individual or a family is homeless.
Throughout my life, poverty has always been one of my darkest enemies. When I look back during my college years, I often think about how I managed to graduate with a degree that I dreamt about since I was a kid. Come to think about it, most of the kids I attended school with and the neighborhood ones havenít finished high school. Theyíre still living at home while their lives arenít going anywhere. The difference b/w them and myself is they have families and resources while I donít have that luxury. At a young age, I had to grow up fast. I had to work to provide for myself and others. Iíve never really had a place to call home in Detroit until I was 18 because thatís when I got my first apartment.
When I finished college, financially, things started to go downhill for me. Since I wasnít a student anymore, I lost my job as a Teaching Assistant as well as a research assistant. Every day, Iíd search for employment from sun up to sun down. I had a few interviews but I had no success of obtaining a job. Days, weeks, and months eventually passed until April 1, 2011 finally approached. That was the day I had to move out of my apartment. Everything from my bank accounts to my credit cards where dried up. With $700.00 in my pocket, I had nowhere to go. With no family to help me out, and all of my friends did not have a place of their own, I was forced to go seek a shelter. I wonít disclose the name of the homeless shelter I lived in for four months but I will state that it felt like jail with limited freedom.
When I arrived at the shelter, I felt as if I reached a new low and it was all my doing. I was given dirty looks by the staff, I had to change clothes (shelter clothes), and I was introduced to a roommate and then told to shower. Each day was a struggle and each day was a lesson. The staff woke us up at 5:30am, we had to stand outside our rooms in line, they would do a head count, and then we were instructed downstairs to eat breakfast. The staff members were like pretend-to-be Correctional Officers. Theyíd talk smack to people, kick people out for verbally defending themselves, and talk down to people simply because they had a job and a place to stay. Who am I? Most of the time, Iíd sat in the lobby until 8:00am arrived because thatís when the library opens. Iíd do my usual job searching throughout the day and then head back to the shelter because curfew was at 10:00pm.
Most of the people who were in the shelter were older people (I wonít judge because everyone in that place had their own struggle) but there were very few young people like myself at that time. I can recall when I was laying down in bed; my roommates were having a discussion about prison and life in general. One guy said, ďNo offense to young blood but what the hell are you doiní in a shelter? What did you do to yoí moms so bad that she put yoí ass out?Ē The guy didnít even know my story nor did he know me!
In August 2011, I was told to leave for unknown reasons. With nowhere to go, I lived somewhere else, a place Iíd rather not say at this time. In February 2012, I got a job with a mortgage company, a company that Iím still working for to this day. I was homeless for almost a year. Am I angry about the events that I experienced? Yes! Am I angry about how people treated me? Yes, but I understand. This whole thing was a learning experience. I learned that I canít control my future, I can only choose to make decisions that will make me a better person in the future. I donít hate anyone who turned their back on me and who judged me for worse, I can only see it as ignorance on their end.
Iím a lot better now as I was then and I hope I wonít have to experience homelessness again as I have done in my childhood and in 2011. It made me a must more stronger person than I was before and it taught me that life is a constant struggle. If any of you have experienced something similar, Iíd like to read your story.