6“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. My grandmother used to tell me that but I couldn’t see it. I dug this hole for myself. With the drug usage came the denials, the lies, the deception, and your slowly slipping into isolation. I grew up in a stable home, raised by a typical midwestern Baptist family. As a juvenile, your eyes start getting a little wider. And you see the things your parents tell you to stray from. But it’s like that candy bowl as a kid, you venture there and it’s like if you eat too much candy you’re gonna get a rotten tooth. It’s amazing how one’s morals and ethics change when you’re using drugs. Things you will not allow or even entertain are acceptable, because they’re situational ethics now. You shouldn’t have regrets, but I have plenty. I never saw myself being a drug addict, going to prison, and ending up homeless.”

“Some days I get so mad at myself. I advise people, drugs kill and destroy so don’t do it. I became sober after I got tired of the way I was living. I chose to isolate myself by getting into drugs and separate myself from family and friends. There’s family I have not seen in 20 years. I live in a plastic shanty on a freeway overpass. I feel pretty comfortable here to a degree. It’s quiet, and that’s what you are basically looking for, someplace quiet and safe. The good people come down and they give out the soaps, the toothpaste, deodorants, without them man I tell you, I really thank the Good Lord for them every night. I take my blessings for what they are now. I believe the creator is going to keep me in his graces. This is not as bad as Skid Row, they got rats, I think we have mice here. I’ve rolled over and seen a couple of them looking at me. I’m working, doing part time with a flooring company and I recycle to make ends meet. Sometimes a coworker drives me back after work, but I have him drop me off at a nearby restaurant and I walk back. I don’t want anyone to see that I live in this little cracker box.”

“America has to really address the problem of homelessness because it’s getting worse all the time. I’ve seen women and children escape abusive relationships, college students sleeping in cars, people with degrees smoking crack every night. But we also have a lot of mental health issues down here. Solving homelessness isn’t like a math equation. You can’t solve it like that. I think that’s why politicians don’t want to talk about it, because there’s not really a clear answer. There’s a lot of gray area. I think it’s gotta start with the individual though. It’s starts with the homeless person being honest. What has them in that situation? If that person doesn’t say ‘hey I got a problem and I need to address it’, there’s nothing you can do. That’s a lot of it.”

“I know they give housing to start up back into society which is a good thing but a lot of times, half the ones that get housing are still using drugs. What you did was remove the drug addict from the street into a residence and they still have the same habits. Behavior hasn’t changed. And some people don’t want to be housed. There’s a lady in Skid Row that has been arrested like 108 times for sleeping in front of a building during business hours. They did everything to get this lady housing, but you can’t make her take housing. That’s the issue you have. You see what I’m saying? It’s bigger than just ‘let’s get everyone housing, and everyone is happy.’ You figure the lady has mental health issues. There’s no easy answers. I’m thankful I’m not the guy that has no shoes, lays out in the rain, or babbles to the sun, because there a lot of those. Something has to be done though. God help us.”