At 7 a.m., Donice Ford-Benson is working in the rain on the unfinished 17th floor of 550 Vanderbilt. She’s checking a drain system but pauses for a moment because, even in the downpour, she can’t resist taking in the panorama of Downtown Brooklyn. The spot where she stands will soon be a balcony and belong to whoever buys the condo and the views. According to the developer’s website, the building will be “Setting the Standard for Brooklyn Living.” Construction is almost complete, and when it is, Ford-Benson will then be out of work. She’s been a union plumber for 17 years; it’s a familiar cycle of episodic work, one that has driven her family in and out of homelessness. Currently, her daily commute is between the new standard of living on Vanderbilt Avenue and the Help 1 shelter in East New York.
Over the last several months, I met a lot of working people like Ford-Benson while interviewing homeless New Yorkers. They cut hair, serve food, care for the elderly, and run after-school programs. They’re not an anomaly: 71 percent of the shelter population is made up of families, a third of whom have a head of household who is working. “The new working poor are homeless,” says Christine Quinn, the former City Council Speaker who now serves as chief executive for Win, a shelter provider for women and families. “A lot of them work for the city or not-for-profits. I can’t tell you I don’t have a Win employee living in a shelter somewhere.”
While the city’s tabloids spotlight mental health and drug dependency as contributing causes of homelessness — and, indeed, they are — the biggest factor, particularly for the working poor, is a familiar New York story: stagnant wages and soaring rents. Between 2000 and 2014, the median New York City rent increased 19 percent while household income decreased by 6.3 percent. In that same period, the city’s homeless population more than doubled from 22,972 to 51,470. There are now around 60,000 people in the city’s shelter system, an all-time peak.
Eight New Yorkers explain why it’s so hard to stop being homeless.
The assistant teacher fighting for basic necessities.
36 Resident, with her two daughters, ages 8 and 16, of Help 1 in East New York. Homeless since: September 2015.
When I was younger, I thought I was smart and tried to venture out on my own, and I realized that I stepped out a little too far. My mom has Section 8. When I left, I took myself off the lease, so I was no longer part of the household composition registered with the city. I had to come in as if I was new in the system. So I was stuck. Staying with people wasn’t working. So I had to find somewhere to go.
When I walked into PATH the first day, there was a fistfight between two people, with their children standing right there. You know what’s demoralizing? The contract they make us sign. You done sold your soul. You gotta have investigators come out and dig through to make sure that you ain’t lying to them. Then, you have to go through case managers, health things. I’ve taken about three or four TB tests. I’m surprised I don’t have it by now. You have to go through psychiatric evaluations. Does that sound like fun to you?
September 1, 2015, they sent me to the Ramada on North Gannon [in Staten Island]. It was near a bus stop that never worked, two stores, another bus stop, and a library. The first question I asked was “If I wanted to leave, how do I get out?” A guy at the hotel said, “There’s a bus there, and if you want you can walk.” He didn’t say it was three and a half hours just to get to St. George to get on the boat to leave. I said, “I need to get out of here.”
The guy said, “Why?”
“Somebody can get killed here, and nobody would know anything until I was clean into Harlem.” I must have felt something because not long after, that’s just what happened. I was reading that thinking, Wow, I was joking — I didn’t think it was actually going to happen.
That was the hotel from hell. You can’t use the common areas. They let us know that there were people paying to be there, and being that we weren’t, if we were to use the microwave to heat up food, to make sure there was no one in the kitchen. My question for the guy from DHS was, if they’re getting the same money from DHS for us to be there as these other people who are paying out of their pockets, I don’t see what the problem is. There’s a stigma that comes attached to us.
I was there for about a month. I couldn’t deal, so we had to go back to PATH and start over. I was told I was going to Manhattan and they put us in Brooklyn. It’s like, Okay, the number came up, Brooklyn, here we come. What can I tell them? I just rocked with it. So I live in East New York.
Total shelter rooms by ZIP code for families with children
I have two daughters. My little one goes to Neighborhood School. The older one, she goes to Mather High School. She does ROTC there. She said she wanted to be an EMT, but then she said that blood made her squeamish, so she decided that she wanted to be a lawyer. I told her that works. As long as she’s not a cop, I’m good. I work in Harlem with the Y on 120th. I work with children. They’ve labeled me an assistant teacher, so I have to do lesson plans and set up programs so that they are not just bored for three hours after school.
During the week, we have to get up if we want to be on time and comfortable, at about 6 a.m. Tuesday is a very special day for me, because I have to drop the two of them to school and then turn back around, come back into Brooklyn to go sit with my case manager, then go to Harlem. Meeting with him is pretty much like a therapy session, because there’s not much else he can do for me. We’ve exhausted every avenue. But I do give him credit because he tries. Basically what happens is we go in, I complain, I tell him what’s not being done. And he’ll do whatever he can to get what we need. He’ll make sure I still have a checking account and a savings account. He’ll go over an Independent Living Plan. The ILP is basically a bunch of things they feel are important to have you leave the system — you have to make sure your children in school; you have a job, which I already do; you’re putting a percentage of your money in a savings account.
[At the shelter], me and my kids have a two-bedroom. My window is directly across from my bed and there is no insulation, so I had to get garbage bags and close up the window so that the outside stays outside and the inside stays inside. We have a full kitchen, but it’s in the living room. The vents are dirty. We’re always sick. And mind you, I bought my own toilet seat. I have currently, to this date, spent about maybe $150 on just repairs, because, I’m sorry, I have children in there, and I know what a rat bite is like, and it’s not a good feeling. I’m a parent first, inmate second. I will not do anything to jeopardize my children.
Curfew is supposed to be 10 p.m., but if you work, they extend it to 3 a.m. We can’t have guests. That’s not to say that you can’t get in. You just wait for the lobby to get very crowded, and then you just walk on by. They won’t even notice. By security’s own admittance: We had a guy get in with a gun, and they said that they weren’t going to risk their lives to go stop him. We cannot have scooters, bikes, roller blades, or skates for our children. We’re allowed to have floor toys. And we can’t have full-length mirrors. The assistant director said it was a safety issue, that if the mirror had fallen and my child got hurt, that would have been a safety concern. I said, “Right, so if I happen to get up and go to the bathroom and happen to see a mouse and it decides to bite my foot, that’s not an issue for you?”
“Oh, I can’t control mice, but I can control your mirror.”
Now, let me show you some of the lovely conditions that I was introduced to with my children. [She pulls out her cell phone.] That’s where mice were coming from, and they were gymnasts because they managed to get over the traps. Yes, they jump. Now, this is the hole where they were coming in and out. I think I fixed it better than they did. That would be plaster and, I think, Spackle from Dollar Tree. This is what prompted me to do it — rat droppings on my stove. See, this is why they don’t like me. I don’t have to say anything, I just show you a picture.
Now, the contract I signed when I sold my soul to DHS was I was entitled to safe and sanitary. My unit definitely wasn’t safe and, as you saw for yourself, definitely was not sanitary. I know one lady at the DHS complaint office by first name. At this point it’s like, “What can we help you with today?”
See, when I came for orientation, they misunderstood me, because they ask us who our role models are and I said, “Well, unfortunately, all of mine are either dead, in jail, or fleeing prosecution.” And the woman looked at me and said, “Well, you need a better class of people.” I said, “Exactly how did you understand what I said?” She said, “Well, I don’t think I understand fully.” I said, “I know you don’t, because there are no better role models than Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, and Assata Shakur.” I live by the philosophy of Malcolm X: You may not want to give it to me, but I’ll get it by any means necessary. I will do it with a smile on my face.
I save money. I’m still sitting on tax money. I know if my paycheck is a week away and my child needs something, I can go in there and pull it out and get what I need to get. Listen, I’m the type where you ain’t gotta teach me how to hustle. Don’t nobody give me anything.
I’ve heard the terminology “easy.” People would tell me that it’s “easy,” that we “want” to be there. That is the biggest misconception. Come experience my life. I guarantee in a week you’ll want to go home. I have to fight for basic necessities, how is that easy? To be displaced, and at any given time, somebody can decide they’re sick of seeing my face, and you have to pack up everything you own and go. If you get too many FTCs, [“failure to comply”] you’re going right back to PATH. To be in the shelter you have to have an active case. If you close that active case by missing an appointment, you get FTC’ed. If you don’t sign the logbook before curfew, that’s an FTC. If you make repairs in your own apartment, that’s an FTC. FTC is: We have the power to throw you out. That’s pretty much what they use to keep people in line around here. It’s their form of retaliation. Sometimes it feels like anything you do can be an FTC. We can get FTC’ed for breathing the wrong way.
Just to be treated as a human is a pain in the ass. Picture that every day except for when you go to work, you don’t hear your name, you’re a number. That’s the common problem with this whole system is that we’re not looked at as human beings. Since I’ve been in this system, the only time I hear my name is when I see my case manager. Otherwise, I’m a 12-digit number. I’m not a person. I’m an ID. This is why I say it’s like jail, because when you go to jail, you are not a human anymore. It kind of reminds me of Full Metal Jacket: “Name, rank, serial number.” My name? Irrelevant. My rank? It’s still irrelevant. But my serial number, they make sure that they get that.
The couple moving from couch to couch.
Abree Bolden, 37, & Lyndsey Vena, 36
Currently participating in a methadone program for heroin addiction. Homeless since: Sometime last year.
Bolden: I had just got home from prison, doing five years. I’ve been out a year now. When I first got out, those first 90 days I had my children. I have four children. One of my children is incarcerated in Arizona. But I woke up with three of my children in the bed with me every day. After three months, it didn’t work out, so I had to go out on my own. My kids live with my mother. I know eventually I’ll be able to get them back. I went to a shelter, but I didn’t feel safe there. Every time you look up, someone is stealing something.
Vena: You get into these places and the mixture of people, it just doesn’t vibe. There are people with mental issues that just need a higher level of care.
Bolden: I seen a man come back to the shelter after open-heart surgery, and they wouldn’t let him bed rest. They make him go out at nine o’clock in the morning with everyone else and come back at three o’clock. You can find anything and everything in the system. I saw a female staff member who was messing around with a guy — a client, whatever you’re supposed to call him — and when it went sour, she kicked him out and sent him to one of the worst shelters in New York.
When you have rage and outbursts, it can get crazy in there. I’ve seen it with the staff members, they try to take down one guy, and it takes like ten of them. Once they get him, they own him. I seen them beat a mental-health patient up. But when you’re in the shelter system, they don’t really care. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of “deliberate indifference,” but they’re deliberately not doing what they’re supposed to be doing in some of these shelters. You got some good people working in the system. You can tell who they are. They been there for four or five years. It ain’t about a paycheck. They smiling. They might help stop someone from jumping off a bridge and at least make it to tomorrow.
I was going through a program and I asked this lady, “You know if anybody’s renting a room out?” She got me a one-bedroom, $250 a month. I was there for two months. I was so at peace. But the person who owned the apartment stole some items from me and sold them. I lost maybe 19 pairs of clippers. I’m a barber and an electrician. I cut hair, so that’s been holding us down. I’m very talented and gifted with that. I travel with my barber tools wherever I go. As long as there is an outlet, I got you. I got to make ends meet by some means, somehow.
Right now I’m struggling to find a place to live. I can’t see myself going back into one of these shelters.
Vena: It makes it really difficult to secure a job if you don’t know where you’re going to be sleeping. How are we going to get up and shower and go to work like normal, everyday people when we don’t have a headquarters?
Bolden: I’ll work anywhere. I’ll scrub floors right now just to get steady income. I stop in any store: “Are you guys hiring? Do you need help?”
Vena: Yeah, any store we’re in, we’re always questioning if they’re hiring. If he sees people with painter’s pants on, he’ll ask, “Oh, are you guys painting houses?” Home improvement — anything — 95 percent of the time that doesn’t pan out. Both of us have real work histories; we’ve been successful in life. I used to be a behavioral counselor, case management. I have a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in women’s studies.
Bolden: I have my associate degree in business management. And I was in Arizona Western College for basic engineering when I was incarcerated.
Vena: Needless to say, we’re both highly educated people who have fallen on hard times. It’s a vicious cycle because you can’t get a job because you don’t have anywhere to live, and you don’t have anywhere to live because you can’t get a job. If we had a voucher to try to get some kind of housing, that would be a step in the right direction, but you get so many stories about how to do it and nothing pans out. It’s like pinball, and someone just keeps pushing the button: “Bounce, bitch, bounce!”
Bolden: Right now, we’re staying here and there, renting out a couch or something like that. I have friends. We’re always trying to make sure we got a warm meal in our stomach wherever we’re at. Because we don’t know where we’re going to be at that night to eat. Last night we found a reasonable bed; we was warm.
Vena: We have a place for tonight. In our travels, we came across someone who is willing to take $20 a day from us. But then there’s the part of finding the damn $20, which sometimes causes you to do things you don’t necessarily want to do. You got to sell something you don’t want to sell, you know what I mean? By any means necessary. I will do my best to make sure he’s okay and he does his best to make sure I’m okay. Whatever it is, we’ll make it work.
It’s pretty damn cold outside. We’re lucky that we have one another. When you’re with somebody, it’s kind of like you have a teammate. On the other hand, it makes it more difficult because now you’re worried about two people instead of one person. But we try to be grateful every day for what we find that day. Every day we work on today. There is no working on tomorrow. We have plans for our future. We want to grow old together and have babies and do all these things, but it’s like, how can you look past eight o’clock tonight if you don’t know where the hell you’re sleeping?
Bolden: It can be harder when you got someone with you. When you’re alone, you can shake and move. When you’re with somebody, you have to be mindful. And I’m grateful for her. I’m blessed to have her in my life.
Bolden: I just have to get better at some things. I have to be a better man. I want to get better at communication — and be more humble. I got a lot of energy, sometimes not the best energy but —
Vena: You have the tendency to make decisions on a rash, quick response and not think about them. And that can be detrimental — life and death.
Bolden: You heard her? That one second can be life and death.
Vena: Especially living out here the way that we are, you don’t know who you are dealing with. It could be anybody and they can tell you, “Sure, come over to my house and I’ll put you up for the night.” And then they end up being a serial murderer.
Bolden: You’ll be in their deep freezer.
Vena: I’ve actually had an incident. I rented a room in a nice house on the border of Long Island and Queens, and I was violated by one of the roommates’ boyfriends.
Bolden: He got violated afterward.
Vena: He sure did.
Bolden: We didn’t file complaints. I’m a street dude, I’m not going to lie to you. I seen him and put him in the bathroom for about an hour. I let him know. He probably won’t ever touch another woman like that.
The home health aide who’s No. 25,000 on a housing waiting list.
Resident, with her husband; son, age 11; and daughter, age 2, of Help 1 in East New York. Homeless since: September 2013.
The first time we attempted to enter the shelter was in 2005, after my son was born. The house that we were in, on Prospect Avenue, was being foreclosed upon. I didn’t have my son’s birth certificate, and they said we needed to wait for that to come before they would do our intake. We stayed at my husband’s mother’s house for several weeks until the birth certificate came. We went back to PATH, and they put us at a temporary shelter in Manhattan while they did the investigation. They spoke to his mother. She confirmed that we had stayed there while we were waiting for the birth certificate and they immediately denied us and told us we had somewhere to stay.
We ended up living with my mother in Peekskill. But after a while, her house ended up getting foreclosed upon. Then we moved to Queens and stayed with some friends there. But then we were robbed by some of their friends and ended up back at PATH in August of 2008.
My son was 3 by then. They placed us in a temporary shelter while they did the investigation. They always tell you it’s ten days to get placement. Some people get placed the same day; some people get placed in a hotel and they have to keep going back to PATH every day until they get a placement. I’ve had friends stay in hotels for two to three months. In September, they told us that they would continue to deny us because his mother still lived at the same address. So we got turned away for the same reason.
After that, a friend of mine said, “I live in a rooming house out here in Brooklyn; come stay with me for a little while. We’ll manage it.” We did good for about six years. Then we saw somebody outside taking pictures of the building. I started searching online, and I found out that the building was on short sale. Next thing we know, the landlord gave us a letter saying that we had to leave. We fought with that man in court for two years, but we ended up getting evicted.
Then we went back to PATH. Now we live at 515 Blake. It’s called Help 1. I was four months pregnant when we arrived. My daughter was born there. She’ll be 3 in April.
When you’re in a shelter, there’s all these different departments and all these different people that are passing your paperwork from one person to another. It’s very easy to get lost. You’re a number. You’re a monetary amount in a budget for them to keep this thing going. The unfortunate truth is that there is more money in us being homeless than there is in us being productive members of society. Help 1 gets paid $2,000 a month for people to live in a room that’s, like, 12 by 12.
I see my caseworker, Mr. King, every week. He is always consistent. We have housing specialists that leave on a regular basis. It’s a revolving door there. Not that the housing specialists do any work. As I understand it, a housing specialist is someone who will assist you in locating permanent housing — accessing brokers or landlords that take programs. The problem is I’m not getting any of that. We qualify for a program called Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, TBRA. It’s basically a rent voucher if we find an apartment. I got that by myself. It took seven or eight months for me to get it. Now the issue that we’re having is the landlords that know about that particular program are not willing to run the risk of taking another program. It’s federally funded, but the Advantage program from a few years ago was also funded and Bloomberg shut the program down.
I saw one apartment through a housing specialist in September of last year. I’ve seen three apartments since the end of December. Me, on my own. I have a folder on my phone with a whole bunch of different apps — Trulia, HotPads, Naked Apartments. Between August and December, I was sending in requests for apartments anywhere. I wasn’t getting any responses back. I say, plain out: “I have a program, my husband is working, it’s a family of two with two children.” We’re not getting any responses back. I have folders full of applications that I’ve put in on Housing Connect, the website where you fill out applications for low-income houses. They tell you what your number is on the list. On some of them, I’m like 25,000.
In November they called me in for a case conference. “Oh, you’re being noncompliant because you’re not looking for apartments.” I pulled my folder out of my bag. I said, “This is everything I’ve done since I’ve been here. There were four pages, 50 listings per page. Now that I’ve showed you mine, show me yours. What do you have for me?” They didn’t have anything.
My caseworker, I saw him two days later, and he just started laughing. He was like, “I told them to leave you alone. They don’t know that you are the paperwork master!” If they ask for anything, I have it. I scan everything because everything in this process is paperwork. When I sign the roster at night, I take pictures of the roster. I’m very meticulous and, to be quite honest, paranoid, because at any given time, they can say, “You violated … you have to leave.”
I had a neighbor two doors down from me. She said, “I don’t want the exterminator. Whatever they’re spraying is bringing the roaches in. I have bugs falling on my kids, so I’m handling it on my own. I’m laying down the gel. I got it.” They waited for her to walk down the stairs, they pulled out the keys, opened her door, let the exterminators in. She comes back and starts yelling at them. The security guard goes over and said, “She threatened us. We don’t feel safe.” They kicked her and her family out on a Sunday. They didn’t even give her a 24-hour notice.
It’s very easy for those kinds of things to happen. But I will never say anything about the security guards because I know the things they go through, too. One of those guys, one of the clients chased him down with a knife. And one time there was a lady that had been gone for three days and she was upset that her supervisor told her she had to go back to PATH, so she and her daughters jumped the supervisor. So there are situations where they deal with violent people, angry people who come into these places.
They had a rule that after 4 p.m., they would not sign us in without our children. My husband came in from work one day on a Sunday, maybe 5 p.m. I was in Jersey visiting my mom. They wouldn’t let him in. He had to wait for us to come back from Jersey so that he could get into the complex. I asked DHS, “Why is that?”
“You’re a family unit. You’re supposed to go together.”
I said, “But if you’re promoting a household to have both adults working, how often is it going to be that both adults are available at the exact same time and coming in with their children? That’s unrealistic.”
My husband landed a job at Best Buy. He had a lot of disagreements with one of the managers there. One of the disagreements pertained to the facility that we’re in now. He would tell his manager, “I have a meeting, I have to come in a little bit late.” They wouldn’t accommodate him. He lost his job last year. We both felt strongly that the fact that we were in a shelter was an issue for them. He just started working security. I started work for a family friend at the beginning of February as a home health aide. I’m going to get a security license as backup because days that she’s in the hospital or God forbid she passes, I won’t get paid.
I’m trying to make us financially stable. I cleaned up my credit, I cleaned up my husband’s credit. I got my student loans out of default and was able to put it into forbearance, so now I’m able to get my stuff together so I can go back to school. I’m trying to go back to school in September. I’ve been reading up on the stock market. I have a stock-trainer app, so I’ve been looking into that. I’ve been looking into investing.
The former postal worker who knows which trains to sleep on.
56 Resident of the New York City Rescue Mission in Chinatown. Homeless since: 2013 (most recently).
I’m from right here — this neighborhood [Gowanus], all my life. I spent the first ten or 11 years on Union Street, on Garfield Place. That was the best part of my childhood — stickball, cocolevio. And then, for like 32 years, we lived on Butler Street. In my father’s house, there were nine of us. My parents come from Puerto Rico. I remember when the Puerto Ricans and the Italians were fighting on Fifth Avenue. I remember when Fifth Avenue was mostly abandoned from, let’s say, Barclays to Flatbush, all of Fifth Avenue, all of the buildings were abandoned.
I used to work for the post office, as a clerk. Fourteen years. And before that, I did construction. I still do odds and ends like side jobs: a sink, a faucet, a light fixture. That’s what I do. I make my living and get my food stamps. I’m like a jack of all trades and master of none. My ex-wife, she drives a city bus.
To be honest, it was the drugs and the alcohol and fighting with my wife and carrying on and losing my job, losing my wife, father died, mother died, and at that time, I was just gone. Mostly cocaine and alcohol.
I still drink. I never get piss-faced. Well, no, no, I say “never,” but 98 percent of the time I don’t drink to do that. I drink just to drink. I haven’t had no cocaine in over 20 years now. I don’t know if it was that I couldn’t afford it, or what happened with the wife and everything else. We never got divorced. When we left each other — I’ll tell you the truth: She left me. In ’96. I wasn’t going to leave my children. I have three. They’re grown. They’ve got their lives to live now.
I was living on the streets. I was sleeping in the park right here on Douglass and Third Avenue. Also, do you know Saint Augustine on Sterling Place and Sixth Avenue? Me and a couple of my friends, we stayed there for two or three months in the summer.
About four years ago, I had double pneumonia. It started in the wintertime, but it was in the early spring and I’d see everybody walking around with T-shirts, and I’ve got a coat on because I’m freezing. I had no idea why until my brother told me, “You better go to the hospital.” Then I started getting weak. The last thing I remember is talking to one of the lady EMT workers. Then, after that, I got up two weeks later. They had put me in a medically induced coma. And I had to stay another three weeks because I had to get my legs working again. I lived with my sister for a while after that.
Later, I moved over here by Sackett, by the Speedway station. I set up shop there. I had like a little tent. It wasn’t an actual tent. I got two chairs and a solid door and that became my bed. I found a mattress that I picked up off the street and put it on top of there, found some blankets, and there I slept. I was able to keep it there for damn near eight months maybe.
I didn’t want to go into the shelters because I’ve known people who been in shelters. They go, and they’re back on the street four or five days later because there’s fighting, there’s thievery, there’s people trying to hurt you for no reason whatsoever. You can’t take off your shoes at night because they’re gone in the morning.
Total shelter beds by ZIP code for single adults
I don’t care what homeless person you ask, the No. 1 reason that they don’t go to those shelters is because of the danger in it. You’re safer sleeping in the street than you are if you go to a place like Bedford. You’re a hell of a whole lot safer because you choose where you sleep. In this neighborhood, ain’t nobody gonna bother you. They see you, and they keep walking, but you go to a shelter and somebody thinks you’re easy picking or whatever, then there’s a fight.
I thought, Why experience it myself? What if I go to sleep and it’s wintertime out and I get up in the morning and my boots are gone, and then they’re going to tell me I have to leave. Then what? I’m walking around outside barefooted in the snow. Better I keep my shoes than to find out for myself, trust me.
There are places to go. You don’t literally stay outside in the wintertime. When it was cold, I’d stay on the trains. Find a train like the E train or the R train that stays inside. Like the D train goes to Coney Island. It goes outside and the conductors, they leave those doors open, as cold as it is; they know you’re there.
A lot of the conductors, they feel that they’re not safe here with the homeless, but the majority of the homeless people, they’re not bad people. The people that they’re not dressed right or they smell to high heaven — I smell it, too. I don’t knock them, but those are the people that have illnesses. You see? But you can’t put everybody in the same boat. Those are the people they see. They don’t see the homeless people. Some homeless people, when you look at them, you would never believe [they’re homeless].
There are places to take showers. Right here on St. Johns and Seventh Avenue, the church on the corner, you go on Saturdays, you take your shower, they’ve got clothes for you; socks, shoes. Going to a place like CHiPS, you will never find a better place, whether you’re homeless or not. A lot of people that come here, they’re not homeless. Like older folks who want to socialize with other people, and CHiPS gives them that opportunity. I come here every day.
It was last year, December 22, when Breaking Ground came and got me. The first time they approached me, I told them I d
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