***This interview was taped April 6th. Catherine died sleeping outside homeless and alone on April 30th. Catherine’s story hits close to home in several ways. I know Catherine. We’ve been friends for over four years […]


***This interview was taped April 6th. Catherine died sleeping outside homeless and alone on April 30th.

Catherine’s story hits close to home in several ways. I know Catherine. We’ve been friends for over four years now. It’s always broken my heart that she is out on the streets, and it’s extremely frustrating she was housed and then kicked back out onto the streets for smoking cigarettes. But what really bothers me is that her only hope to get off the streets is having her hips operated on so then she can just die in a board and care facility.

Catherine was an RN. Because of a bad marriage and lack of jobs, she found herself trying to survive on welfare. GR, or general relief, barely pays for food much less housing, so she ended up in a homeless shelter.

I first met Catherine while I was working at a winter shelter four years ago. She is brutally honest, and I like people that “tell it like it is”! Catherine is one of those people who just slipped through what we call “gaps in the safety net”.

A former outreach partner of mine worked very hard to get Catherine into housing. That alone was nothing short of a miracle since Catherine keeps getting turned down by SSI. She was housed by a partner agency and all seemed to be going good. I wish I had a photo of her apartment to show you. Not sure where Catherine found everything, but she decked her apartment out good! She made it a home!

Then the building owner sold the building and everyone had to move. This partner agency relocated Catherine in to a nonsmoking building, which is kind of dumb since Catherine is a long-term smoker, and quitting smoking is harder than quitting heron. Let’s be real here, homeless people smoke, so housing a homeless person that smokes in a nonsmoking building is “dumb in a no dumb zone”. I remember the day Catherine was placed back out into the streets. She left all the cool stuff she acquired to make a home and just walked out. And people wonder why some homeless people have attitudes. For all she has been through, Catherine has earned a lot of grace.

For a while she stayed in a temporary shelter, and then was transferred to the winter shelter, and now she sleeps outside! SHE SLEEPS OUTSIDE!

Truth is, Catherine should not be homeless. It’s just ridiculous that she was housed in an apartment that clearly didn’t fit her needs. Just like in so many other people’s situations, the “system” failed.

It is completely unacceptable that people like Catherine, and there are many, go through the homeless services system over and over and over just to return to the streets! It is completely unacceptable that Catherine’s only hope now is to have a major surgery so she can be placed in a nursing home! It is completely unacceptable that several homeless service agencies have given up on Catherine!

Please share Catherine’s powerful story with everyone you know. My hope is that somehow this video will get seen by the right people who will take action to help fix the broken homeless services system. While we say “whatever it takes”, the real truth is people just like Catherine die on the streets everyday! With the boomer generation reaching the senior years we are going to see a lot more people like Catherine living without adequate housing and support. If we cannot take care of one senior woman in fifteen years time we’re in a whole lot of trouble next few years.Distributed by

Because of a bad marriage and lack of jobs, Catherine was trying to survive on welfare Click To Tweet

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  • Rd Plasschaert

    Sharp. Witty. Knowledgeable. Coherent. Succinct.

    These are words that describe Catherine.

    Having had the honor to meet her while she was at an emergency shelter, I got to listen to some of her views and the facilitating… perhaps I could call it “coaching”… she instinctively and automatically did for more folks experiencing homelessness with her.

    While I personally can’t change the system, many of us uniting our voices together can.

  • Himsocool

    your an insperation

  • Where are her children? Why aren’t they helping her?

  • hempmed

    We all lost a very wise woman … How does the US continue to allow these kinds of tragedies to happen? Shouldn’t we do a better job with the working poor?
    So sad!

  • Xxxxxx

  • So very sad. Poor Lady xx

  • booky63

    I am not naive and do understand that relationships fail, but I am a loss to understand why the state didn’t help or what happened to her children when her marriage failed. From the clip it sounds like she must have been estranged from her children and no one knows what goes on behind closed doors of course, but I am still at a loss to understand why literally there was no one there to help her. The state should have helped her in some way, if her children couldn’t.

  • Chris222h

    So sad, how horrible that Catherine passed away alone and on the street. No one should ever be homeless and die alone!! Thank you for sharing her story. May God bless you for all that you do.

  • Ebbe

    What about her children, what are doing?

  • SF

    My condolances. At least her story and her live won’t be forgotten this way

  • fleet420

    What part is it that eludes you friend, when you loose your job, everything else slowly follows, how long it takes depends on how well you’ve managed to do in your life. Not everyone has annuities and pensions built up. The state, which ever you find yourself in, they do nothing. You go to your local agencies and get shuffled around until they shuffle you right out into the street. You are greatly and very sadly mistaken if you think help is out there waiting, the local police will drive by as they look at you when it’s below zero outside, heat on and just shake their heads…as if you had a choice in what’s happening. No, you’d be very wrong to assume that anyone cares…especially people you know….they will become embarrassed, mostly, (I believe) at their inability to help, soon you will cease seeing or hearing from them. You now will become that homeless person on the corner/in the local park, anyplace except where you should be……home.
    For whatever reason her children will not help…that is her personal business, she does not owe you or anyone else an explanation. Children these days are very selfish they are not helpers or givers…no, they want and take. So it really is not at all surprising to read/see that her children will not help. Maybe they do not even know.

  • Spotlight Baby

    Sadly, Catherine represents a growing trend of homeless who were once gainfully employed and true contributors to the betterment of society. What a tragedy that this former nurse could not find her way back after a failed marriage. So many questions come to mind: How did Catherine’s ex-husband get on with his life after divorce? Are we to accept that he was better equipped or more deserving of an income while his ex-wife, the mother of his children, is forced to live on the street? I wonder how many lives Catherine helped save during her years as a registered nurse, and yet not one friend or former colleague was able to reach out with support? She clearly held back tears at one point to maintain her dignity. Where are Catherine’s adult children? Too busy with their comfy little lives to be bothered with saving Mom? It’s not their problem, right? It’s obscene! Why was this woman left with no alternative? Why did the system (deliberately) fail her at every turn when it readily stands at attention and doles out benefits to illegals for the asking? Anyone care to answer that? Catherine was living proof that her circumstances could hit any one of us without warning. Something to think about. RIP, Catherine. Your story will travel.

  • Melinda Fain

    A homeless RN in New Orleans died sitting in Jackson Square , facing the Cathedral. Her body sat there for hours before a tourist realized she wasn’t just sleeping. One of the local restaurants was kind enough to let her use them as her address so she could get her Social Security check. She slept rough. Ever since then, I have had a special heart for the homeless. You never know the story behind the face you see.

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