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‘We are humans’: homeless people share their views | News

Editor’s Note: The Johnson City Press recently interviewed homeless people living in the downtown area. To protect their privacy, we do not use their names.

After her boyfriend was arrested for domestic violence earlier this year, she said she saw an opportunity to escape an abusive relationship she had tried to leave several times before.

She fled a nearby small town to Johnson City, where she hoped her attacker wouldn’t be able to track her down so easily. At one point, she was able to get a job despite having no ID, but lost it soon after. At another point, she was able to secure an apartment, but also lost that after she said other tenants complained that she had a cart of her belongings outside the building.

“I was finally out of the streets and trying to improve myself and had to come back to it,” she said while eating a free Melting Pot meal – one of the few meals that those who live on the streets can count on their day -today.

Since finding herself on the street several months ago, she said she had been robbed on several occasions and suffered from leg pain so severe that she could not go to the doctor. to get his meds.

She says she tries to help everyone she can on the streets and that she has come to befriend those with whom she is facing in this struggle. And while she may be able to return to her hometown to get help from those she knows there, it’s not worth the risk of her ex-boyfriend finding her.

“I choose to be here because it’s either it or it’s dead at the hand of a man, so I’ll be homeless all day,” she said, adding “I don’t know what I will do”.

Others on the streets also struggled to get back on their feet.

One man said that it had been incredibly difficult for him to find a job. He has no ID or any other identification document. To compound his problems, the man, who came to the area for drug treatment, said he was arrested shortly after being released from rehab under a pending warrant. 2018, only to see his charges dismissed two weeks later.

“It took me two weeks of my life,” he said.

The woman said those who live on the streets have effectively been reduced to hiding during the day because “we are tired of being ridiculed and put down just because we don’t have a home.”

People Johnson City Press spoke to also voiced concerns about how the city has dealt with homelessness in the city center, saying they don’t feel seen as human.

“We are trying,” said one man. “We are humans. Give us a chance and stop harassing us.

Another man, one military veteran who became homeless after the death of his fiancee, disputed comments made by city staff in a Johnson City Press article in June in which a city official discussed ways to keep the homeless away. – shelter from the city center.

“They said they were going to eliminate the homeless – they didn’t say eliminate the homeless,” he said. “It was almost like a threat. Context is everything, it absolutely says eliminate the homeless, and I was like ‘whoa, whoa, whoa.’ “

The woman agreed, saying the city leaders “want us to leave their city”.

“It means getting us out of their city because we are littering their city. “

On the streets, accessing necessities such as toilets has become even more difficult since the city started locking public toilets, they said.

“They have the facilities,” one man said of the city. “There is no excuse. “

The man went on to say that access to a bathroom is a “basic human right” and a basic need. As a Navy, he said, he visited several different countries and remarked that “this country is so rich that we lock up our garbage.

“Even in such a wealthy place, we still have these common problems and it’s not a lack of money; the money is not being put in the right places, ”he said.

The man went on to say he takes it personally when individuals, especially city officials, say negative things about people living on the streets. He said people don’t take the time to get to know them and aren’t empathetic.

“They don’t take the time to understand what’s really going on, and it’s emblematic of a lot of sectors of society,” he said, noting that there was work to be done on both sides to create a dialogue. “They don’t get it, and they think (we’re) just lazy and that’s not true at all – you have to work twice as hard here.”

But while living on the streets comes with an almost endless number of struggles, he said that “random acts of kindness make the world go round,” and he stressed the kindness of Random foreigners, the Melting Pot, the Johnson City Downtown Day Center, and Watauga Behavioral Health.

“I’ve seen people give when they had nothing, give to others,” he said, “just stop, try to help. They have no idea how to help, but they try.

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