Q&A with A.D
This week, we had the chance to catch up with A.D, a PADS Lake County client who was housed last July. Originally from August Town, Jamaica, A.D moved to the United States when he was 28 in search of work.
Q: Where did your journey through homelessness begin?
A: My dad died. My mother needed help paying the bills, so I moved in with her. Despite this, the mortgage proved to be too much for us to afford, so we ended up renting an apartment in the area. Shortly after, my mother decided to move to Minnesota where there was more family support. I ended up moving to Wisconsin in search of a cheaper apartment. I found one, but could not find consistent work.
Q: Where did you end up looking for employment?
A: I tried temp agencies, but they would set me up with jobs that were far away, and I could not afford a car. On top of that, all of the jobs were short term. I got behind on my bills pretty fast. When I couldn’t make rent, I tried living on the streets in areas close to my temp job, but it quickly became unbearable.
Q: Can you describe what living on the street was like?
A: It was terrible. I remember hating not being able to take a shower, and wanting to so bad. The streets were noisy and cold at night, and you never felt safe. There were times when I got spit on while sleeping. Rats were everywhere. When I did manage to sleep, I never felt rested.
Q: Wow. Did you have any preconceptions of what being homeless might be like?
A: Before it actually happened, I had never even considered that I could become homeless. I remember when I was working, I would see people sleeping under the bridge. I felt bad for them, and brought them blankets for when it got cold at night. I had no idea that I would be in the same situation shortly after.
Q: That was very nice of you. Did you ever find yourself wondering how those people became homeless?
A: I figured they were probably drug addicts. That’s not true. I’m not a drug addict, and during my time being homeless, I met plenty of people who weren’t either. The reality is, some people become homeless because of bad timing.
Q: Before PADS, did you have any contact with shelters?
A: I tried a few, but did not have a good experience. They were very overcrowded. It was very difficult to relax and sleep being surrounded by so many people all the time. I preferred the streets.
Q: Also, speaking of PADS - how and when did you first come in contact with us?
A: It was about a year ago. I met a lawyer who gave me a card with PADS’ information on it. I had never even heard of it, but decided it was worth a shot.
Q: What was your first impression of PADS when you arrived?
A: It was very positive. They immediately took care of me. I was in a lot of physical pain when I arrived, due to sleeping on the streets for three years. In one week, I was able to get multiple doctor appointments and a SNAP card interview.
Q: What have your interactions been like with other PADS clients?
A: Every time I visit PADS, I always run into people talking about how much help they are getting. It makes me feel good to know that anyone who needs assistance can get it.
Q: What was going through your mind when you were told you would receive permanent housing?
A: I felt like I was in heaven when I got the call. My heart felt full when I got my key and walked in my apartment. It’s crazy to think that yesterday my bed was the street.
Q: That’s so amazing to hear. Now that you have housing, what do you like to do for fun?
A: I haven’t had a television in four years, so I really enjoy being able to sit down and watch t.v
Q: What programs do you like to watch?
A: I like watching the news and “The First 48”.
Q: What advice do you have for people currently going through homelessness?
A: Don’t give up. Work hard to change your situation.
Q: What do you believe is the best way for our community to help the homeless?
A: The community should know what resources are available, and make them known to the public. They should work on building those resources as well. Don’t just help one person that needs it by giving them things. Help the shelter because they know how to help 100 people not just one.