The large building had multiple floors and housed multitudes of San Diego’s homeless. With so many homeless people all in one place, we lost our individuality and became numbers for their population statistics. They stopped focusing on individual families and instead focused on the population as a whole; which translated to them caring about all of us, but they didn’t care about any one of us.
Living at St. De Paul’s over the next month had its ups and down. My mom had to pay a high percentage of the low wages she made from her new security job to the shelter every paycheck. They said it would help us save up to move out. They said upon completion of the six-month program they give all the money back. The keywords were “upon completion,” meaning if we didn’t complete it, we did not get the money back. Giving up most of her paycheck left us with little money to do anything else besides wash clothes and put a few minutes on the family cell phone; which wasn’t new. We had gone without buying them before so it wasn’t an immediate problem.
–My Way Home: Growing Up Homeless in America by Michael Gaulden
From the preface:
This memoir covers the latter part of my homeless journey, ranging from age fourteen to seventeen, predominately my high school years. The horror of my homelessness is what I call it. Allow me to take you down my path and to walk in my footsteps along my own hellacious underground railroad. If you are reading this in the midst of your own overwhelmingly challenging journey, it is you for whom I write….It is you whom I urge not to quit. I know your pain and through my pain, I wish to give you strength. For everyone else reading this, please understand my story is only one of millions of other homeless people.