Homelessness From My Eyes
By Tee Tee (Tonya)
Hello, let me start with my story. I was homeless and coming to Madison in 2007. Although it was helpful to have temporary shelter when I got here, I quickly found out what some of the hardships of living in the shelter can be like. One evening I was headed to the Salvation Army and I had an incident of me falling down a hill and hurting my knees, therefore I could hardly walk. I was accompanied by my boyfriend at the time. He went ahead to tell the staff person that I was hurt, and that I was still on my way and would be late for the curfew. Once arriving there I was still turned around and spend the night outside. This was the day of one of the bad winter storms of 2007-2008 in which they had to shut down the transportation in Madison.
I’ve had about four apartments since then, and now I’m in a situation that I’m not quite considered homeless because I have a roof over my head. In my eye sight and quite a few others, you are considered homeless even if you stay with someone and you’re not on the lease or you’re staying place to place. People need a home and things to call their own with their name on it and pay the bills of their own.
I don’t believe homelessness will ever end, I do believe that it can be helped to be put at a minimum. While I was on the streets of Madison I can say I was treated fair enough to get from point A to point B. What I mean by that is, I knew when it was time to move around before someone could say it so I would have a back up before having to leave. If I didn’t have somewhere to go or someone to help me, I knew how to hustle money to get a hotel room. Not always, I didn’t always stay inside, don’t get me wrong. I’ve slept outside and it wasn’t so good every time. The night I mentioned earlier when I was turned away from the Salvation Army into the blizzard was bad because I didn’t know anyone here in Madison and had no where to go. So I had no choice but to sleep outside. Of course my boyfriend at that time slept out with me. We came here together from Chicago. So we happened to run into a older white guy that knew Madison better than and helped us find a cubby hole (as they call it here) to sleep in and stay warm enough for us not to die in that blizzard. Yes we caught colds, that’s normal, but on the count of this guy we learned how to survive the winters of Madison if needed. No one deserves to go through that. Although some nights outside in the summer weren’t bad at all, nights like these were cold as hell. Now tell me know does that sound coming from a woman with no kids here in Madison?
Once upon a time I had it all and didn’t have to worry about a thing. I’m no dummy to the streets or school either. Things haven’t been a walk in the park with me lately though. My background with the law, hasn’t helped my situation. I’ve gotten at least up to $300,000 in tickets in my life, most are for disorderly conducts and some are for trespassing, open intoxicant, lout noise, etc. How is a homeless person supposed to pay such a large amount of fines? I will admit that some I deserved, but not all. There are a few incidents with the disorderlies where I was defending myself. There should be no place in the world that has laws of no self-defense. The loud noise, ticket was once while in my own apartment. The trespassing was when I was walking through a parking lot that I had no idea of. Some have gotten these tickets for sleeping outside. Tell me where the fairness was in that?
Besides all of the things I go through I’m still a nice person. I like to go bike riding, dance, listen to music, go to parks, and barbeque. Writing is another thing that I enjoy doing. That’s because I get a chance to write whatever comes to my mind and I calm down. Sometimes I have to reread what I’ve written. Whatever goes in my personal journal I won’t change. Most of all I love children. They keep me smiling cause I believe they are the most precious things on earth. Helping the elderly and disabled is another part of my life. I’ve been doing that since the age of 17 hears old and I’m 33 years old now. So do the math. I’m a very smart person regardless of my social life experiences and problems.
I have some suggestions on how we can help solve homelessness. There should be more shelters for single women and women with children. There should be no family or single person without a home. I know some people have mental issues, disabilities, etc. and they need to be placed in a home and given help for what ever reason. I don’t understand how they can let these men or women leave these shelters and go back to the steets. How can a person function right if they don’t have a place to get their head together and have a good morning breakfast the right way? The children need to not be in the streets all day and no where to go. I would love to see everyone in a home to call their own.
Things that I’ve done to address homelessness for myself is, I’ve kept an apartment and kept a job to pay for it. I’ve also stayed with other people as well and paid them for staying with them. I work with Operation Welcome Home to help other homeless people. We are about assisting the homeless and getting them somewhere to live. We work side by side with Take Back the Land Madison, which is a group putting families and single people into foreclosed houses. We want our land back and we are not taking no for an answer.
Every homeless person shouldn’t be looked down on. No one knows what paths that person had to cross to get to where they are at now in this lifetime. Remember to never judge a book by its cover until you open it up and read it from the front til the back and no scanning. You just might miss something important.