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Sidewalk Motel: Phoenix Arizona

>>This problem is not going
to disappear. It’s going to get bigger.
It won’t be streets, It will be whole cities.
It will be whole towns. Because you cannot live.
It’s not enough. No one makes enough money
to live in these times. I’m talking about people with
cars,>>people with jobs. They said
they’re a step away from where I’m living.>>In our culture, homelessness is kind of that
invisible individual.>>You know people walk by. They don’t even see them
don’t even acknowledge. I mean that’s not
just for seniors that’s any homeless person.
People don’t want to see that there’s that type
of thing out there. So they become invisible.>>There is no one
fits all reason for why folks are homeless.>>A lot of that I believe
has to do with the crisis we had back in 2008. A lot of folks lost their life
savings in the stock market 401Ks et cetera.
They just everybody thinks>>Living in Phoenix would be
easy when you’re homeless and it’s not of course. Why would they think
that? They read a newspaper and about those temperatures.
And you know,>>
Propaganda. Well the homeless are just like the rest of us.
They want to>>Move to someplace nice
and you know it’s nice here in the winter.
Not so nice in the summer.>>Like when I hear that people
come to Arizona to be homeless.
On purpose? Seriously,
like that’s your plan? That’s
not a plan.>> Phoenix Arizona
a lot of folks gravitate here because of the nice weather. I see a lot of people come in
from all over the country because of our weather.>> But there is no one fits all it could be
mental health substance abuse.>>Um just not preparing
for their golden years. This place was founded
by a Methodist Pastor plus a gentleman
by the name of Michael who’s on staff
who was a homeless person. And he and Miriam were the three
that felt there needed to be something
for the seniors because>>what they found
was oftentimes the seniors in the shelters are abused by the younger people
that are in the shelters. Uh stuff gets stolen. SCOTT RICHIE who was the pastor
felt there needed to be a place where seniors could be at least
for a few hours of the day. A place where
they were treasured and treated as human beings
and a place of safety. And a place where there was help
to move them forward to move them out of homelessness
into being housed. We see anywhere between
one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty daily
here. Because most seniors
never expected to ever truly be in the position they’re in. With seniors especially with
our economy the way it’s been, oftentimes, Social Security
is not enough to live on. You know if you have
some of our members get like only seven
hundred dollars a month and most of the apartments
around here are twelve hundred. So there is no way. How can
they get into a place with what that is
and still live, still exist? I really had a till I got down
working here I had a completely different
opinion of the homeless. Because I thought
so many of them chose to and some do choose to but some
would rather not that choice and they don’t see
any other choice. And either mentally ill you know
or they need some help and with a little help
they could get off the streets. Some of our members are
have mental issues Which makes it hard
for them to hold a job. They also
a lot of em are SMI. A lot of em come off
of drugs, addictions of one sort or another. Another one of our problems is we have a lot of folks
with mental health issues. That are untreated and there’s
just nowhere for them to go. Here, they become people
that are loved and cared about. That’s why we call them members
and not clients. Because I want them to feel like
they’re part of a family here.>>So they feel like
they are a human being again and not just something
that people walk by.>>So you know. What I realize is that there’s just such a need
out there for people to just help people, you
know? Food is really important. But just to have someone, you
know, help them fill out forms because maybe they don’t
have glasses to see as well or they’re they have
some mental issues that kind of help hinder them
from filling out things. Good people you know. Lady her husband well could
have been a common law husband, he died in a Circle K. They’d been living in his truck.
They never got married. They’d been living together
for 20 years. She won’t get his
Social Security, won’t get his military. So we had to sell
her truck on eBay. These people have been
trying to get housing, Section 8 housing which is
for very low income housing. Some facilities quit
taking waiting lists because it’s over a year. So these people
have no place to go. The homeless population
it just it really balloons in the winter for good reason. And I would sure wish
that there know I think there’s certainly the need for homeless section
8 housing is massive. So it is such a conundrum. But what I really think needs
more humans to interact, you
know. Don’t just write a check.
Go sit out, go talk to someone, you know.
Listen to their story and say, you know. What
they just an encouraging hey you know do this. Here’s
a place Justa Center, it’s
got some clothes, you know. It just they need encouragement
and and and I think when when a person
helps someone one to one it helps that person being helped
helps maintain their dignity. And that’s
the biggest problem. Here, have a check you know. Here here
get this food and go away. I’ve been working here
at the Justa Center for almost six years now.>> I’m 76. So I should be
and laying on a beach in Hawaii. But I work here. And the reason I work here
is I have a thing about>>People being homeless,
especially veterans and especially people over 55.
When I was just before I was 16
I ran away from home and I wound up
spending a few nights in Fifth Street Mission
in Miami Florida so I know what it’s like
to be hungry. When you’re 16,>>it’s easy. When you’re 55,
>>it’s not so easy. It’s an expensive place to live.
Most of our people here make less than
a thousand dollars a month on Social Security. A lot of people make the minimum
which is 750 or whatever. Yeah. I think in Phoenix the>>rents are like fifteen
hundred that’s, you know, a
month.>>So you don’t have a chance.
>>A lot of the problem is that there’s not enough
senior housing out there.>>We’re in a shortage
of housing affordable housing.>>I have a lot of folks
that are on waiting lists.
But some of those waiting lists can be one to five years. Here
in Phoenix since we have such a large growth
in population, rents are getting higher and higher
and they want folks to have two and a half
three times the rent amount to. move in and a lot of our folks
are living on a fixed income and they just can’t afford that.>>The reason why all these
people have succumb to living on the streets, they gave up.
Everything they tried, it don’t
work. They said,>>well what about this
and what about that? I say, it’s good.
It’s like putting far as it is milk on a ulcer. It’s going to slow it
down stop it for a minute I said but then the next day you’re
gonna have the same pain again. You know? So they do
what the can to keep the people happy and sedated. You look,
there’s no racism down here.>>Everybody sits together because everybody’s
in the same type of condition. And the thing is the last thing
you can let go is your mind. You cannot let your mind
go for no circumstances. Yeah
I’m hot. Yeah I’m thirsty. Yeah I got no place to go
but I’ve got a job. I’ve been on the streets
for 17 years or longer. No matter
how much money I save,>>it’s not going to be enough
to get a place. And they say when I do get a place
my child support raises, the taxes go all crazy
and stuff like that. They want the money for taxes.
So you gotta tell child support Okay well this is that, this is
I’ll give you the money for
the taxes. You ain’t never gonna have
enough. I say, what
happens if you work two jobs? You’ll kill yourself for
nothing.>>You never get caught up.
You will never get caught up.
They ask me>>why don’t you just go on the
streets and stay there forever?
I say I’m not gonna do that. I’m not gonna do that. I say I
can work. I can still function. I says,
I still have a mind that is capable
of being productive to society. Even though
I don’t have a place,>>I still work. You see most of
these people down here have
bicycles. You got to get somewhere,
you want to get something to
eat? You can’t depend on that bus.
Cause a lot of times if your hygiene
ain’t correct you ain’t riding no bus. Not only will they
not let you on, they will pass you.
They get used to you. The
drivers get to know who you are on a
bases is.>>My name’s Richard.
I grew up in West Virginia.>>I’ve been out here
since in Arizona since 86.>>I met Amy when we were out
during our addiction. We were both addicted to meth.
We got married in 2011 while we were clean.>>We were clean for about a
year before then. We got
married. And we stayed clean for about
another year year and a half.>>Then we decided one weekend
to get high again.>>And that lasted a year
and a half. We lost everything.
During that year and a half. We had a house.>>We lost all our furniture.
We lost our two cars.>>We lost our place where we’d
been living for the past year.>>We moved in to a extended
stay hotel for like six or so six or seven months
which is pretty good if you think about like being
out there like in your
addiction. Like we managed to like scrape
together enough money for it. We scraped together enough money
to stay via means of borrowing from friends,
family. Liar! Whatever. Dirt, we did dirt to
come up with it every week.>>We did go out and we did get
in some legal trouble. Once we got clean
the second time We decided, I decided myself>>she decided herself
we were done. I didn’t want it anymore.
Don’t need it anymore. But before then the homelessness
the not having a place to stay. We lost our extended
stay hotel so we were hotel hopping. I would stand
on the corner by the freeway to try to get enough money for>>a hotel room. When you’re using you tend
to stay in packs right because like that’s what you do.>>But we were you know
like getting hotels
with friends and doing that you mean like running around
doing dirt with other people and then that like landed us at like 50 Second Street
at the motel 6 and we were like straight
stranded. We didn’t have a pot to piss in
and a window to throw it out. Or an idea how to get out of it. So that was when
he was I don’t know Something switched in you
to where you were just like OK I have to do something to
for you and I to be on our own. So that was him standing
out there with a sign every day to get the room money>>for twelve hours if you’re
So it’s usually forty five dollars a night. So you stand on the corner till
you get forty-five dollars. And being the frugal shopper
that Amy is she always had a coupon.
Which saved us five dollars. So we always had
that extra money to eat.>>We ate hot dogs, baked beans
or we were probably one of the only homeless
couples out there that had a
microwave and a crock pot. And that saved us many a time.>>I think part of the scariest
part about being homeless when he mentioned that
we didn’t have a place to go like it my stomach clenched
just even thinking about that. Not having a place like
even a home base, you know what
I mean? Like nowhere to like lay your head,
nowhere to call your own. Just always having to be
on the move. I don’t think I could have been
homeless in the summertime. Like I mean like I mean if
you’re homeless you’re homeless, you know what I mean? You don’t
get to pick your season. But like to be I mean like
if there’s like you know a this or that kind of situation, the wintertime sucks
but like summertime so there’s nowhere
to hide from it. We went to CASS once to meet.
He’s a veteran so going to CASS to see
if we could get veteran housing and we did end up
for like six months. We wound up in an apartment
that the ceiling fell down.>>Well yeah. But I don’t remember
what organization it was that put us in there. The US
Vets. Yes. And but they didn’t
follow through. I mean they just put you
in the apartment but there’s no follow through
to make sure that you’re doing OK that you’re finding work
that you’re doing anything. It was just like here
then we’re in our addiction. So like it was a constant fight
of well you go get a job. No you go get a job,
no you go get a job no you go get a job. And then it was just like
all we did was fight. So like but then literally
like three days into our stay at the apartment
the ceiling caved in the
hallway. And because the lady above us
was a heroin addict and overdosed overflowed
her bathtub and it rained. And I walked out of our bedroom and I’m like it’s raining
in the hallway like no joke. and he goes what? And I’m like I’m not even high like
it’s raining in the hallway.>>It was. And the apartment
complex just didn’t care.>>They came and took the wet
down but they never fixed it. So like you expect us to pay
six hundred dollars a month for an apartment where I can see
like my neighbors floor like seriously, like they didn’t
care.>>We went to U.S. Vets again
but the one on Brand and asked you know do you have
a place that we could stay because we really
don’t have anywhere to go?>>And they said no. And I
remember being in the lobby crying I’m like we don’t have
anywhere to go. We don’t have anywhere to go.
We don’t have any plan. We have no money.
What are we gonna do? And I don’t know why
that time it upset me when we had been
in that exact same position, you know what I mean? Like
countless times
and we walked and fought until we got to
twenty seventh and school and I sat behind, I’ll never
forget it
I sat behind the dumpster just bawling my eyes out and I just said,
Lord please help. I can’t do this anymore.>>I need help and we got clean. I remember telling you on the
way, I said that I just want to be
a normal old married couple who like goes to work
and comes home. That’s what we are now.
I again got another job with a moving company
where I work today.>> God is good. The company is a really
good company to work for.>>The owner
is a recovering addict. A lot of people that are in the
office are recovering addicts. And I’m not talking one or two
I’m talking 20 30 year. so we know that it’s possible
to stay clean and sober which we are planning on
with God’s help to stay this way. I dream
every night.>>But now it’s not a nightmare.
It’s good dreams .>>Some people have been out
there for so long, they
just don’t know how to be a normal
functioning member of society.>>Well I mean you’re out there and there’s no way
you can get a job.>>I mean you don’t have
a address to put on your application.>>If you have a phone
it’s an Obama phone.>>And it only has so many
And usually by
the tenth day fifth day of the month
you’re out of minutes anyways. So there ain’t no way to get a
hold of you. And if you have
clean clothes you’re lucky. I mean we did laundry
at the hotel but we were one
of the fortunate ones.>>Well I think because we had
a normal life before, we had a normal life
before and we knew like.>>I remember once asked we were
at this one apartment remember we were in Peoria and
he asked me. He goes
What are we having for dinner?>>And this guy goes you’re
having dinner? He goes, you cook? You eat?
And Richard’s like I think the more important
question is that you don’t. He’s like yes, you have to eat. Because I think we were there
probably getting drugs and he was like he goes
No I don’t eat.>>Richard’s like you have
to you have to eat and you have
to sleep. Very random.>>You know,
Richard, you would be out there flying a sign
but was that a common thing that people fly a sign for a
room or was it mostly just for
drugs?>>No drugs. Mostly drugs.>>Yeah. And I got chased away
from corners before. There was this one
older guy. I mean, he was
nuts. And he had a cane or a golf
club. He came, he chased me with
a golf ball. That’s my corner, that’s my
corner!>>But like
when we were out there, if you get tight with the group,
I mean they’ll rob you blind and and take care of you
at the same time. You know what I mean? Like they
tend to like stick together. I don’t know now. I wouldn’t make it now
because it’s so like so scary out there now.
To get that that mentality.>>Hey we’re all
in the same boat. It’s all leaking.
We’ve got to keep paddling. You know, keep paddling
keep bailing, you know. Because you know life is one train wreck after another
it’s just how you know, what’s your attitude when you
stand up after it happened?>>Do you have a positive
outlook, I guess
on the homeless situation? No, it’s going
to get worse.>>Don’t give up hope
because God is all you have first of all and then you
of all. You really can’t trust
anybody. You have to learn, you have
to dig from within. You have to find the resources because no one’s going to share
with you nothing. So I tell people this
to stay strong, stay motivated. Most of all just trust in God
cause it’s all you got anyways.>> It’s astounding how
resilient people can be if given some help where there’s
a human touch.

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