When I talk to people who are chronically homeless in San Angelo, I hear some pretty heart-wrenching stories. They are experiencing things that only occupy our nightmares.
When people think of others being homeless, they typically think of someone sleeping in a business’ doorway on cardboard wrapped in a blanket, or maybe sleeping behind some bushes in a church courtyard, or in a small tent hidden from public view in a wooded area. They think it’s cold. They think they’ll be hungry.
They have no idea what those things really are. I’ve heard people describe it as camping. You and I have vastly different ideas of what camping is.
Below are a few anonymous quotes taken from people who are chronically homeless.
Comments & Observations
“I do not doubt that you have been cold at many points in your life. You may have been very cold. But homeless cold is different. You’re not just a bit chilly, you’re not a bit shivery, your entire soul is frozen. Your bones feel like they’ve been kept in a freezer for a week and then implanted in your flesh.”
“I have no doubt you’ve felt hungry. But trust me, you have never felt real hunger. Hungry for you is that feeling you get at lunch after skipping breakfast. Real hunger is different. Real hunger hurts – a lot. When was the last time you ate disgusting leftovers out of a garbage bin so you could stop the pain, the dizziness, and even hallucinations?”
My observations: We had one man, a few weeks ago, who literally passed out on the sidewalk while walking several miles to the Soup Kitchen from a combination of dehydration, hunger, and high temperatures. Twice he ended up in the hospital with concussions. We have provided him with monthly bus passes so he does not have to walk so far to the Soup Kitchen.
“When was the last time you were awoken in bed by a group of thugs p*ssing all over you… or throwing plastic baggies full of feces that spew all over you when the baggie hits on the ground in front of you?”
My observations: This happened quite frequently when the homeless were camping under the bridge just down the street from Central High School.
“When was the last time you received a severe beating because someone didn’t like you asking for a bit of small change?”
“How many times in your life have you gone to sleep, knowing you might not wake up in the morning?”
My observations: Homeless people are at extreme risk of violence when they least expect it. They have been stabbed, shot, bones broken with tire irons, and much, much worse.”