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I met Prince a few blocks away from Los Angeles’s Skid Row. He says he’s been on his own since he was 15 years old.

Prince said his younger years were filled with drugs and alcohol. At times, he was able to get up to 10 years sober. It’s extremely hard to get sober regardless of where you live, and for people who do not have adequate housing living on the streets, it’s impossible. Drugs and alcohol allow people to escape the trauma of homelessness. We are not condoning drinking and using. Just trying to help people put it in perspective. If you’re going to the bathroom behind a dumpster every day, you need something to escape the pain. There’s actually research that shows that a vast majority of people become homeless sober but then start using drugs to cope with life on the streets.

Prince shares why he doesn’t go into shelters unless it’s extremely cold. Shelters are only available at night, and they kick everyone out early in the morning. Prince says you go in. Then, they lead people in groups up to take a shower. Then you come back down and smell stinky feet. I know exactly what homeless shelter he is talking about, and stinky feet bring back memories. I used to say sleeping in a homeless shelter smelled like butts and feet because that’s the truth.

Prince’s 2nd wish was that he would be able to stay clean and sober. I loved all his wishes, but that one resonated with me. Prince has been outside far too long. He’s been in and out of rehab and treatment programs. We need to get people like Prince into housing with treatment. Drug treatment alone without housing fails more than it works, but with housing, not only does a person have a better chance to get sober, we’ve ended their homelessness.

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Invisible People


We imagine a world where everyone has a place to call home. Until then, we strive to be the most trusted source for homelessness news, education and advocacy.

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